Lady & Bird

Lady & Bird

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To take the lyrics to "Shepard's Song" at their word, the album Lady & Bird is supposed to tell us the story of two young adults, a boy and a girl, who are in fact children trapped inside the bodies of adults and prefer not to communicate with a world that they cannot understand. This sounds like the premise for a really awful piece of undergraduate fiction, but thankfully Keren Ann and Bardi Johannsson, the artists behind this recording, don't push the premise any farther than is necessary, and once the second track is over it's easy to forget this is a concept album at all. And the music is well worth hearing regardless of the story behind it; singer and songwriter Keren Ann and Bang Gang frontman Johannsson make a fine team, blending their voices into lovely, breathy harmonies and conjuring up a set of haunting melodies that suggest a merger of arty folk-rock and smart sunshine pop under a cover of clouds. Lady & Bird is almost aggressively low-key, purposefully drifting through lovely landscapes of acoustic guitars and delicately applied keyboards, and the faithful cover of the Velvet Underground's "Stephanie Says," not exactly a storming performance, ends up being the peppiest thing on the disc. And while the lyrics to most of the songs are best described as intriguingly cryptic, their version of "Suicide Is Painless" (better known as the theme from M*A*S*H, though the words were never heard on the TV show) bring the loving cynicism of the song to life with a truly artful touch. If you loved the more ambient side of This Mortal Coil, Lady & Bird should be a perfect soundtrack for your late-night wanderings into dreamland.

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