The Stray Birds
The Stray Birds
If The Stray Birds were going to make another album, there was only one way it would happen: together. The idea was at once a challenge, an ultimatum, and a survival mechanism for a band at the crossroads. Write the record collaboratively, or don’t write it at all. The result is ‘Let It Pass,’ their fourth album and most powerful, personal, and cathartic collection yet. The record charts the trio’s tumultuous emotional journey in the years since the release of their acclaimed 2016 album ‘Magic Fire,’ a period which saw de Vitry and fiddler/guitarist/mandolinist/vocalist Oliver Craven end their romantic relationship while choosing to continue their musical one. Along with bassist/banjoist/vocalist Charlie Muench, the pair had to face down an uncertain future and reevaluate what it meant to create art together.
From the lilting “In My Time” and gentle “Light As A Fire” to the gritty “Miles and Miles” and sentimental “If Time Is Not Enough,” change and continuation are frequent themes on the album, but each track boils down in its own way to an act of growth and healing. Album opener “The Bridge” says it all, with the whole band joining in ecstatic three-part harmony to sing, “Meet me on the bridge / We can watch the water / Meet me on the bridge / Water running under.” Like so much of the album, it’s a cry for empathy and compromise that works on a variety of levels: personal, professional, political. The band takes an unflinching look in the mirror with this record, but it’s not hard to zoom out and hear the parallels here with a divided nation similarly navigating its way through a metaphorical maelstrom.
Originally hailing from Lancaster, PA, The Stray Birds first broke out in 2012 with their self-titled/self-released debut, which landed among NPR's Top Ten Folk/Americana Albums of the Year and earned the trio major festival performances everywhere from MerleFest to Scotland's Celtic Connections. They followed it up in 2014 with ‘Best Medicine,’ which debuted at #2 on the Billboard Bluegrass chart, and returned two years later with the Larry Campbell-produced ‘Magic Fire,’ which hit #1 and earned an avalanche of critical praise. NPR hailed the band’s “warm harmonies” and “pristine playing,” while Pop Matters heralded the album as “an essential step forward,” and Folk Alley called it “masterfully crafted.”
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