Birds of Chicago (USA/Canada)
Birds of Chicago, the collective centered around Allison Russell and JT Nero, reassert the simple notion – radical in these times – that beautiful words and music can still tap deep veins of emotion.
Birds of Chicago was born in 2012 when Nero began writing for his vocal star-muse, Russell. Both were accomplished singer-songwriters with projects of their own, Nero with JT and the Clouds and Russell with the acclaimed roots outfit Po’ Girl, but together there was an unmistakable chemistry. Nero had found the perfect voice for his rock and roll psalms. Russell moved from being a primary songwriter to an interpreter, and her simmering restraint is deeply refreshing to a landscape scorched by post The Voice/American Idol vocal gymnastics and over-emoting.
Stark, elemental imagery that feels like scripture, or a lost folk song recovered; the Birds draw heavily on the gospel tradition and the music feels like a new, secular gospel of sorts. For Birds of Chicago, every word counts. Every note counts. No gold-dusting, no filler. An antidote to our stressed out, blogged out, youtubed attention spans.
Music this raw and soul-rich demands to be experienced live, and Birds of Chicago have developed a fervent following, touring 200 nights a year. For these Birds, singing for a festival full of new people, hearts wide open, keeps off the cold and chases away the shadows.