Stephen Harausz (guitar and vocals) and David Burton (drums and percussion) had been playing music together for about two years as a two-piece before meeting Nick Albury (bass, mandolin and lap steel). The synergy between the three was immediate and they formed The Falling Birds and quickly got to work on their first release entitled Native America. The EP is very diverse and they jump from genre to genre never quite landing on a specific sound within their five songs. They dabble in folk, bluegrass and hardrock to name a few and they deliver the goods.
Native America opens with a 1970’s inspired rocker called “Darling,” which utilizes some classic guitar hooks with crashing Bonham style drumming and solid bass work. I was impressed by the visceral vocal delivery by Harausz who sings from his gut throughout the song. Even when the band mellows out for a bit Harausz’s voice is subdued but still sounds as if it is yearning for his “Darling.” The second song “If Time Allows” can't be more different than the first. It is a beauty that combines five-to-one walking bass lines, clean guitars and harmonica to create a blend of country, bluegrass, folk and rock. As the song progresses it visits different shades of emotional ambiguity. Around the 2:00 mark the song is drenched in melancholy but by the end of the song it invites us to the local tavern to hoedown with your partner.
“Arms Out Wide” introduces us to some classic surf rock guitar and vocal harmonies that might sound right at home on the next Quentin Tarantino flick while “Dead Man Walking” is a straight up rocker song. The EP’s last song is an acoustic number free of percussion called “A New York Love Song” in which Harausz delivers an inspired performance that relies on nostalgia and melancholy.
The only real issue I have with this EP is the personality disorder it has. Every song feels a bit detached from the rest as The Falling Birds fearlessly jump from genre to genre. Despite the lack of fluidity the songs themselves are well written and showcase the talent these three men have. Native America has created a good foundation that explores the creativity the band will have to offer on their full length.
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