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The Stray Birds - CCA - 09/10/16

"Sublime set from the one of the top draws at the Glasgow Americana festival."


Review by Graham McCusker
Posted on 2016-10-09 23:25:09
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One of the main draws at the tenth anniversary of the Glasgow Americana festival, The Stray Birds arrive to promote their critically-acclaimed third album Magic Fire. Playing a sold-out Sunday matinee headline show on the final day of this years shindig, they are up against a bleary-eyed audience, paying the price from the last four days of festivities. With the likes of Blue Rose Code and Chip Taylor having played the festival already, it has already been a great success prior to the Pennsylvania natives taking to the CCA stage.

"Thats why music is the best medicine I sell" The Stray Birds sing on opener Best Medicine, and this turns out to be true as their goosebump-inducing harmonies get rid of any lingering hangovers. The trio have recently been bolstered on the live front with the addition of a drummer to help them sound "4D", as vocalist Maya De Vitry puts it, and it particularly benefits their new material as they race through the majority of Magic Fire, with a cover of Townes Van Zandts Loretta thrown in for good measure. De Vitry and co-vocalist Oliver Craven swap instruments freely between mandolin, fiddle and acoustic guitar, with Charles Muench stood firmly on double bass, all huddled round a solitary microphone centre stage. They all take turns on lead vocals throughout the performance, always being ably-backed with harmonies that would make Crosby, Stills & Nash jealous. However, the real star is De Vitry. A cross between the rootsiness of Emmylou Harris and the purity of Alison Krauss, she is easily one of the best vocalists in modern country music. If evidence of this was needed, then it was shown when she took the lead on Harlem. Dedicated to her father, due to it being his favourite song of theirs, its a tender moment made even more beautiful being performed to a hushed and appreciative audience, knowing fine well that they are in the presence of an otherworldly talent. Mr. De Vitry is clearly a man of fine taste.

The Stray Birds end on Magic Fire highlight Sabrina. A country hoedown which has the crowd dancing in their seats and all singing along by the second chorus. As they leave the stage victorious, they leave little time between coming back on for their encore, as the audience demand more. They finish on the gospel-inspired When I Die, in which every member, drummer included, sings their own verse.

The popularity of Americana and country music in Scotland has grown rapidly in recent years, helped by knowledgeable promoters like Kevin Morris of the Fallen Angels Club bringing its brightest talents across the water. Its hard to argue that this years Americana festival has been anything but the best yet. The Stray Birds delivered a ninety minute masterclass on their late afternoon slot, and on the back of the success of Magic Fire will, deservedly, be playing venues twice as big on these shores in no time at all.

Magic Fire is out now on Yep Roc Records

The Stray Birds tour continue their UK tour throughout October. They play the following Scottish dates:

10th October - Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
12th October - Performing Arts Centre, Kilbarchan
13th October - Tolbooth, Stirling
14th October - Mareel, Lerwick, Shetland
15th October - Glenbuchat Hall, Strathdon
16th October - The Blue Lamp, Aberdeen

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