The Ragbirds Trace The Trajectory Of Love On ‘The Threshold & The Hearth’ [Stream/Review]

first_imgOn their newest release, The Threshold & The Hearth, Ann Arbor’s multi-cultural fusion band The Ragbirds celebrate the ties that bind us all with a concept album about the progression of new love. The band is no stranger to family, as it is comprised of the Zindle siblings, T.J. and Erin, along with Erin’s husband, percussionist Randall Moore. Not only that, but the material on The Threshold & The Hearth was written and recorded in the wake of the birth of the couple’s daughter. The joy of new life and the wonder of fresh eyes seeing the world for the first time infuses the entire album with an uplifting quality of hope, for the one and the whole.Blending elements of African, Latin, Middle Eastern, Celtic and Americana music with an effortless charm, The Ragbirds are amazingly sonically diverse. T.J. Zindle clearly cut his chops on the guitar licks of the seventies and eighties greats, and his range of influences allows him to switch back and forth between harder charging material and cleaner, more pop-oriented leads. His sister Erin uses her fiddle playing and bright, sweet voice to draw in listeners with her inescapable good cheer. The rhythm section of Moore, bassist Dan Jones and drummer Jon Brown have the most work to do, managing to mix so many different patterns and influences into such a strong and cohesive spine that both drives and compliments the material. With years of honing their playing skills and world spanning tours under their belt, The Ragbirds focus their considerable talents to incredible effect on The Threshold & The Hearth.You can listen to the album here, and follow along with our review below.“Lemon Grove,” the lead track, begins the cycle of the love story at the heart of the piece with a slightly on-the-nose track about birth and the importance of nurturing and strong roots for a successful life. On the second track, “Cosmos” we hear Erin Zindle at her best, with a lyrical look at the micro and macro workings of the universe paired with a scat singing, toe tapping musical score that features her fine fiddle work. “The Curse Of Finger Pointing” opens with one of the most complete takes on the band’s sound, with gypsy-esque percussive elements, clean guitar lines and Erin’s sing-song voice layering in progressively before each is afforded the opportunity to separate from the whole and shine individually. The infectious nature of the music of The Ragbirds can be hypnotic, and smart song placement helps keep the listener from being overwhelmed by the more lush and dreamlike material. The frenetic burst of “Sometimes Honestly” snaps the smiling reverie with a whip smart beat and a confessional set of lyrics that delve into the dichotomy of human nature. Straying further away from their more diverse sound on the album’s next track, “Alleyway Saints,” we see an example of the more traditional rock road that The Ragbirds could just as easily have trod.Continuing to show their admirable musical dexterity, the haunting piano ballad “Strange Weather” is the sparsest song in this collection and one of the most beautifully done. Comparing the pressures of the atmosphere and their effect on the weather with the romantic and social pressures that threaten all romances at one point or another Erin Zindle’s palpable vulnerability and connects the song with everyone who’s ever swam in the changing tides of the seas of love.The fictionalized couple’s struggles continue in “Tough Love,” as a jamming back beat allows Zindle to express the age old feminine wish for their partners to listen to their problems, not to solve them. The music fits the sentiment perfectly, as the more composed and unified moments regularly give way to varied tempos and solo sections. The frustration she’s expressing escalates into full argument, and the importance of communication is expressed beautifully. In “Breakdown” we find the lovers driven apart by their issues, and the jangling, discordant overtones echo the turbulent emotions before finally unifying with a well thought out use of choral effects on the vocals to illustrate the strength of harmony. At last, in “On Your Side,” the lovers reunite and are strengthened by their trials and the song itself is one of the most powerful statements on hope and love the band makes on The Threshold & The Hearth. The remaining tracks focus on the twilight of love, and the comfort and ease that familiarity can bring. On The Threshold & The Hearth, The Ragbirds show a wisdom and confidence in their abilities that is truly impressive. The conceit of the piece, following a twenty year cycle of a romance and the trials and victories that happen along the way, rewards the listener with a true musical journey. The love brought into being over the course of the album is more than just a result of the connection between the characters, it’s a spot on metaphor for the cycle of life itself, set to a beautifully rich and diverse set of sonic styles and instrumentation. It takes so many different factors and circumstances for love to work, and it’s all wonderfully exemplified by The Ragbirds in a fresh, heartfelt and truly idiosyncratic way.The Ragbirds’ new album, The Threshold & The Hearth, is available HERElast_img

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