Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Nathan Salsburg, & Tyler Trotter

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The impetus of Hear The Children Sing & The Evidence lies in unconventional lullaby choices. While plenty of traditional and contemporary selections might come to mind when soothing an infant, Lungfish isn’t typically on the list. Yet, from Nathan Salsburg’s nighttime ritual comes an album that becomes more than just soothing sounds for wakeful children. Instead he, along with Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and Tyler Trotter have turned Daniel Higgs’ works into longform meditations — circular studies that roll his lyrics around and around, polishing them like choice pebbles picked up along life’s journey.

“Hear The Children Sing” is stretched to nearly 20 minutes. The trio retains the song’s loping cadence, having already been rooted in a kind of hypnotic sway. As it’s stretched and repeated, the song begins to lose its caustic undertow. Instead it loosens and catches the breeze, braiding Salsburg’s guitars with Zak Riles’ banjo. The song becomes a mantra, lofted towards the deities and demons that might interrupt a child’s sleep, weaving an aura of calm from Higgs’ frayed threads. It’s a protective mark for the singer and the swaddled, and the longer it lingers the tighter those aural braids and braces become.

For “The Evidence” they leave the percussive push behind, letting Trotter divine a synth thrum that only adds the the feeling of Lungfish as raag. Like its counterpart, Salsburg has plucked an outlier in Lungfish’s catalog, one that was already uncommonly calm, but apparently just waiting to become a wellspring of solitude. Oldham gives both songs a the kind of weight that only his voice can imbue in a piece. His honey and hickory delivery elevates any material, but with Higgs’ poetic prowess as the base layer, these two pieces become something in tune with celestial vibrations. The setup for this collection reads as a curiosity on paper, but within moments any notion of stunt is burned away, letting the warmth wrap around the listener. Bear witness and beware, once the flame is lit, it’s hard to look away.

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