I’ve definitely laid out a bit of ink on the new Black Twig Pickers album, but it can’t really be parsed into the usual bits and pieces that litter the site. It’s more of a whole experience, built to brighten the day and deepen its colors. The band’s been bridging the past since 2001 and after a jaunt at Thrill Jockey and collaborations with Steve Gunn and Charlie Parr, they return to their original home at the venerable VHF records for Friend’s Peace. Steeped in the type of Old Time traditionals that fill their catalog alongside interpretations, interpolations and originals that all feel like they might pack the best barn dances, the record pulls from joy and pain, reception and remembrance in a way that only the Twigs can.
The band mixes instrumental waltzes with morning fresh bluegrass tales, ending on an elegy for their lost friend and bandmate Jack Rose. While Rose’s absence will always be felt, Andrew, Mike, and Sally Anne’s vocals provide a proper measure of deeply furrowed sadness, joy, relief, and lament. There’s an earthen quality to the album, a tie that binds this to Morgan’s own solo LP from last year. Though here the full band is more rooted in the dust bowl open spaces than her own pastoral peek into secret garden greens.
As usual Nathan Bowles’ banjo enters into a whirling joust with Morgan’s fiddle, draping their songs in a patchwork linen lightness that’s familiar, yet feels like it was made just for each individual listener. Sometimes we don’t realize what we’ve been missing until it saunters unexpectedly back into our lives. Friend’s Peace is that kind of record. I hadn’t realized the drought we were in until the Twigs were back on the turntable and the house was filled with the dawn light lyricism of their songs once more.
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