These days everyone with a capo and a four-track recorder is making music and calling it a record. Here’s a trio with a portable DAT machine, a single stereo microphone and a living room in Wisconsin that’s actually made a collection of songs worth listening to. And they stay in key, happy day.
It helps that Redbird is Jeffrey Foucault, Kris Delmhorst and Peter Mulvey, who each have a pretty good solo singer-songwriter thing going. The trio has chosen wisely and sequenced beautifully a set of tunes that is transcendent, with skillful but not showy playing on three acoustic guitars, plus accompaniment by David Goodrich on slide guitar, mandolin and papoose guitar, and Delmhorst on occasional fiddle.
The disc is free of Serious Folk Trappings, with gentle rock underpinnings keeping things loose enough to attract the non-folk crowd. There’s even a folked-up R.E.M. cover (“You Are The Everything”). The originals are carefully crafted and delicate, playing to the artists’ strengths: Mulvey’s “Ithaca”, Delm-horst’s “Lullaby 101” and Foucault’s painful “Drunk Lullaby” are testimony to their established solo careers.
Greg Brown’s “Ships”, Bob Dylan’s “Buckets Of Rain” and the standard “Moonglow” are given new lyrical poignancy and musical vitality, while the jaunty title song and Willie Nelson’s “I Gotta Get Drunk” keeps the set from being too uptight. If only other living-room productions could be as effective…