Self Issued (label)
21 April 2014 (released)
17 April 2014
Apart, JT Nero (in his JT & The Clouds guise) and Alison Russell (as Po’ Girl) are superb performers and a joy on the ear. Together as Birds Of Chicago they are exceptional. Their debut album was one of the highspots of 2013. This live album has been issued in time for their tour of UK & Ireland and on the basis of it they should be one not to miss.
The album features both of their voices along with the full Clouds band and was recorded in front of their local fans without any overdubs or retakes.
All of the good things about them are represented here, Russell’s voice is a wonderful weapon and the band cook like demons crossing over gospel and rock with ease. JT’s voice is harsher and with more drawl and it is a brilliant counterpoint to the Po’ Girl’s throaty and soulful contralto but when each of them is isolated they have the same quality and a remarkable musicality – it really is rare that the sum of the parts equals exactly 1+1 but they manage it here.
Russell’s voice is completely acapella at the start of ‘Barley’ and the chills that go down the back of your neck are worth the price of this album on its own but when the song develops with handclaps and drum it develops a swing and draws you in like a revivalist meeting – you can just see the crowd clapping along, swaying with her voice and held in a trance – magical.
When the band kicks in on ‘All The City Girls’ there is a distinct feeling of the spirit of The Band and the as they drive along to “This is not the day I day but if I do then it’s alright’ with a rolling Hammond giving the full gospel meeting feeling and you can’t help but bounce around the room with the joy of it all.
So many fine tracks on the album – ‘I Have Heard Words’ with the two duetting against a lovely clarinet solo, the ukulele and accordion driven ‘Sans Souci’, ‘Kathy’ full of pathos and heart, ‘Nobody Wants To Be Alone, Nobody Wants To Die’ cutting to your soul like an icicle.
They are a remarkable combo and this represents them as they should be – live and unchained.