Small Birds of Sound make songs that are the perfect soundtrack as you watch your dog roll blissfully in the grass. They also compose songs, simultaneously of celebration and protest, that snarl beneath a back-porch-fingerpicking repose. Furthermore, Small Birds of Sound make lovingly tended soundscapes that can be explored for days, like a maze of desert canyons, or a newly discovered corner of a coral reef.
“So... what do they sound like?”
A fair question. Isolating Small Birds’ stylistic elements can be a little bit like trying to extract an egg from a cake, but it is possible to detect a laid-back, slightly dirty, country blues twang, a bit of indie-pop sparkle, spare, crystalline folk lyricism, melodies that bubble up from a stew of European fiddle traditions, and occasional forays into jagged rhythms, oblique harmonies, and Cagean sonic textures. The ghosts of Harry Nilsson and Ennio Morricone occasionally preside over their writing sessions.
They currently perform as a duet - or duet-plus daughter - in an entirely acoustic context with ukeleles, accordion, guitar and odd percussion, and also with the addition of electric guitars and keyboards.
Jessica and Chris began collaborating on soundscapes, installations, and multimedia design for theater in 2009, but they embarked on their individual artistic trajectories way before that. Jessica has directed theater, written plays, fiction and poetry, made films, and played both guitar and bass in a bouquet of Northern California surf bands. Chris, some of you may recall, was a co-founder and multi-instrumentalist with the now venerable - though still notorious - Camper Van Beethoven. While devoting a number of years to teaching, recording, and performing music for children and families, he has been quietly filling notebooks with music, some of which now grows impatient for a hearing.
Chris and Jessica are often joined by their daughter Rosalind, who sings, dances and plays sundry instruments. Rosie also makes art that is an important part of the Small Birds oeuvre. Small Birds of Sound is truly a family business; music and art-making as a cottage industry. [+]