The Wooden Birds is the new project from American Analog Set’s Andrew Kenny with fellow AmAnSet member Leslie Sisson on vocals and guitar and drummer Michael Bell from Lymbic System. Their debut album Magnolia is like instant stress relief for the weary. The hushed vocals and dreamy, folksy, country vibe will ease away any tension you may be experiencing and soothe your restless mind.
Like American Analog Set, Kenny’s hushed vocals weave around atmospheric layers but where the earlier band depended on droning keyboard loops, this group trades then in for stripped down, simplistic production based around acoustic guitar, drums, bass and especially the soft vocals. Kenny’s latest effort has a more intimate feel, like sitting with friends on a porch in the country, playing under the stars and enjoying the close company, like that band that always appeared on the porch in the move Rachel Getting Married. There is a consistent beat throughout the album’s entirety that unifies the songs and picks up the tempo ever so slightly above dreamy to cross more into folk territory.
As sleepy as some of these songs may feel on the onset, they are sneakily catchy. “False Alarm” starts up with the signature beat and Kenny’s melodic vocals and before you know it your toe is tapping and you are singing along with the chorus. The song really shines when Sisson, with a voice reminscent of a soft Steve Nicks, joins in on harmony vocals. The way the two voices blend together is so perfect. Then in “The Other One”, the male-female “doo doo doo doo” is one that could easily crop up in uncouncious humming later in the day.
One of my favorite tracks, “Seven Seventeen”, a duet between Kenny and Sisson that embodies what I love about this touching, honest album. The vocals shine here, blended so sweetly amidst the loping acoustic guitar as they sing about the anxiety in dealing with love across large age gaps. The lyrics are sometimes a little too cute with lines like, “You were always on my list / and more than just our bike tires kissed” but they manage to pull it off anyway.
The magical thing about the music is that from listen one it feels like you already know it because of the personal quality wrapped up in the tunes. It’s comfortable and nice like a soft blanket. The atomsphere is distinctly The Wooden Birds’ own and yet it’s accessible and even inviting. With such tight and unashamedly sparse and intimate product along with an emphasis on nicely layered and blended vocals, it’s hard to find a complaint with Magnolia. While this intimiate and lazy style will not appeal to everyone, those that do enjoy it will likely fall in love at first listen.