Personnel: Erin McKeown (vocals, guitar, Wurlitzer piano, bass guitar); Juana Molina (vocals); Sebastian Steinberg (bass guitar); Matt Chamberlain (drums); Peter Mulvey (sound effects).
Recording information: Piety Street Studios, New Orleans, Lousiana (2004).
For her fourth album, 2005's WE WILL BECOME LIKE BIRDS, singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Erin McKeown hones her pop-rock sound. Whereas her past records veered from jazz to folk to country, BIRDS finds McKeown crafting songs that subtly mix these genres but fall squarely into the melodic rock style of artists like Aimee Mann. McKeown's high, clear, girl-next-door voice is in fine form, bold enough to carry the majestic, opening "Aspera," but nuanced enough for the gentle, acoustic number "Float." McKeown is backed by a top-notch band here that includes renowned session drummer Matt Chamberlain (who has played with Tori Amos) and bassist Sebastian Steinberg (formerly of Soul Coughing). She's also joined by Argentine vocalist Juana Molina (on "The Golden Dream," a gauzy, Wurlitzer-driven number) and the husky-voiced Peter Mulvey (on the spare "Delicate December"). One of McKeown's most confident and cohesive albums, WE WILL BECOME LIKE BIRDS showcases the talents of an artist hitting her stride.
What the critics say...
Uncut (p.104) - 3 stars out of 5 - "[With] shuffly folk-hop and clattery percussion..."
Dirty Linen (p.90) - "[I]t's a recording with diverse sounds; both tempos and emotions change from song to song, and energy and enthusiasm shine through on every track."