Last Thursday, music fans flocked to World Cafe Live to witness the record release show of a very special feather — The Stray Birds. The trio out of Lancaster cracked open their just-released Best Medicine and strutted their Americana for a highly appreciative audience.
Watching The Stray Birds is a brilliant reminder of how tightly knit a band can be. Frequently huddling near each other and the microphone for their joint harmonies, while also allowing lead-singing duties by each individually, they are a brilliant sight and sound to behold. Maya de Vitry and Oliver Craven are the lead writers, with fiddle, banjo and guitar among their instruments of choice, while Charlie Muench plays the stand-up bass.
Best Medicine was front and center for much of the show. Like their previous work, their aesthetic, from instrumentation to lyrics to the vocals, seems to have arrived via time machine from over a century ago. Hidden in the antiquarian nature are flashes of modernity, like in the title track’s references to record shops, neon signs and The Beatles. There is no hiding their joy in sharing traditional songs like “Pallet” with its allusions to blues and poverty and how these songs inspire their own creations including “San Antonio” with its old-timey word shift to San Antone. There is no irony here; it is 100% genuine. And the eager crowd understandably drank in every last drop of their unique musical concoctions.
The Stray Birds showed they know what the best medicine is: finely crafted, authentic and refreshing from the first note to the last.
Australian-born Jordie Lane opened playing solo, except for one song where Craven joined him. Idiosyncratic, charismatic and a gifted songsmith, he was a fine opener. With the recently released 2014 EP Not Built to Last and a back catalogue, Lane showed he deserves a listen beyond his 30 minute set.
The Stray Birds, World Cafe Live