Recorded live this past New Year’s Eve, Fowl Play from Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds is an energizing blast of dizzying soul. Polished without feeling sleek, their melodies are brisk, bluesy and bruising. Arriving on the heels of a momentous year for the band that included a total of 25 festival dates, 125 shows and their very first performance on national television, Fowl Play feels like a jubilant bookend to a seminal year of many miles traveled. And while they have issued a total of three full-length studio albums since 2010 (Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, Pound of Dirt and The Weather Below) the group’s high wattage stage show and towering musicianship make the release of a live album a natural and necessary addition to their expanding discography.
Apart from conjuring up a potent sense of craftsmanship, the group’s set emits a palpable sense of fun. And though the crowd’s cheers on a live album can sometimes feel like a startling addition to the last few notes of a song, the audience’s frenzied reactions throughout Fowl Play only seem to enhance the celebratory mood rather than distract from it. Feeding off of that same enthusiasm, Arleigh Kincheloe, Jackson Kincheloe, Josh Myers, Sasha Brown, Phil Rodriguez, Brian Graham and Dan Boyden take that energy and use it like a boomerang to pass back and forth between themselves and their fans.
Beginning their sold-out show at The Warehouse in Fairfield, CT with a searing performance of “Freight Train,” the Brooklyn based band wasted no time in unleashing a rhythm section as menacing, treacherous and unpredictable as a stormy Southern sky. Keeping the momentum going over the course of an additional fifteen songs, they continued to mirror the speed and muscle of a train so swift it generates sparks on the track. Yet one of their most undeniable strengths as a unit is their ability to seamlessly segue from one atmosphere to the next, instilling “We Need A Love” and “Sugar” with a lightness that brightens the skies as quickly as performances of songs like “Dirt” darkens them. Although what remains most compelling is the way in which they fuse a virtual collage of styles and sounds into something that is uniquely their own, showering Fowl Play with the right doses of flash and grit.
Article: Caitlin Phillips
Cover Photo: Bryan Lasky