For Paper Bird, their new album marks a milestone. More importantly, it provides them with a new beginning, a new chapter in their trajectory that sees them redefining their direction, a change in their musical sensibility while maintaining their trademark upbeat attitude.
The band’s self titled album, available September 9th on Thirty Tigers Records/ Sons of Thunder Records, introduces vocalist Carleigh Aikins to the lineup, whose previous credits include extended stints with the critically acclaimed bands Bahamas and Fox Jaws. Her addition to the band adds an extra edge, highlighting a clear sonic evolution. A shift in the band’s lineup has opened up new possibilities, swapping electric guitars and amped up instrumentation for the laid back, folkflavored sound they favored in the past.
“In truth this is an entirely new band,” bassist Caleb Summeril explains. “With Carleigh coming on board, we’ve literally made a fresh start.”
Guitarist Paul DeHaven first met Aikins at a concert on Willie Nelson’s ranch during South by Southwest in 2012. The two hit it off, and before long Aikins and the rest of the band began collaborating long distance via email. “It was serendipitous that we could join forces so seamlessly,” says Aikins. “We created an instant bond and a new sound we can all stand proudly behind; which merges our respective influences from the Canadian and American music we were raised with. Everyone’s input is welcome here and everyone has their moment to shine, in the true democratic sense and tradition of a band.”
Paper Bird has always made a point of encouraging each of its members to share the spotlight. The group boasts three lead vocalists singer Sarah Anderson, singer and keyboard player Genevieve Patterson, and Aikins herself all of whom blend their voices in seamless three part harmonies. The instrumental duties are shared by Summeril, DeHaven, and drummer Mark Anderson.
Hailing from Denver, Colorado, Paper Bird first emerged from the same environs that launched such outfits as Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats and the Lumineers. The group has toured extensively throughout the U.S., sharing bills with the aforementioned bands, as well as Daryl Hall & John Oates, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and Shakey Graves.
On Paper Bird, the band collaborates with worldrenowned musician, singer and songwriter John Oates, who coproduced the album with Aikins’ fellow Canadian David Kalmusky. The album was recorded and mixed at Addiction Sound Studios in Nashville, and for his part, Oates couldn’t be more delighted.
“Paper Bird is a band that possesses a sound that’s more than the sum of its parts,” Oates effuses. “It’s the coming together of two perfect trinities. It has three distinctly unique female lead singers whose harmonies blend together as one…united with an inventive, cohesive rhythm section trio. I loved their sound from the first time I heard them and they just keep getting better. They are a true musical family united by a unique and pure artistic vision…a rare quality in this day and age of so much disposable and less than original music.”
Paper Bird has a sound that blends the engaging vocal harmonies of Fleet Foxes and The Lone Bellow with the classic ‘70s stylings of bands like Heart and Fleetwood Mac without imitating or emulating any one of them in particular. Indeed, the new music is rugged, resilient and flush with enthusiasm. It conveys the essence of inspired Americana, while still staying true to its riveting rock regimen.
The album starts with the soulful strut of “To The Light,” and heads into desire and yearning with the single “Don’t Want Half.” With its playful harmonies and rhythms, “I Don’t Mind” captures the ephemeral feelings of love, as “it’s not easy to be a dreamer, when you’re sleeping with the wind.” Paper Bird merge the musical past with the present on “Sunday,” conjuring up doo-wop, rock and groove sounds.
“This is definitely the start of something exciting,” Summeril suggests. “We’re at a point in our career where we feel we’re ready to take on the world.”