Birds of Chicago, is a collective based around JT Nero and Allison Russell. Whether touring as a duo or with a full band, Nero and Russell have emerged as two of the most compelling new voices in North American Roots music. This live recording is a debut offering by Birds of Chicago and has been getting rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic.
The album is certainly impressive with the playing and singing of the highest quality. I have known of Allison Russell for her excellent track record as a member of Po Girl while the name of JT Nero is new to me. Their voices complement each other beautifully across the seventeen tracks here and it is a brave attempt to release a live recording as a debut. However, the risk is well worth taking and we are served up with a compelling and vibrant recording that leaves you feeling like you missed out on a special night.
There is a celebratory abandon to the performances and I am reminded of Maria McKee and Lone Justice as a reference point. With keyboard swells and piano progressions all wrapped up tight by some literate guitar explorations, the intense and passionate vocal delivery of songs like All the City Girls and I Have Heard Words really take proceedings to a higher level.
The sexy flirtation of the Latin groove, Sans Souci, is instantly appealing while the blues infused Nobody Wants to be Alone, Nobody Wants to Die steals the show here with a compelling performance from the two lead musicians Nero and Russell. Heady stuff and warmly delivered.