Personnel: JT Nero (vocals, guitar); Allison Russell (vocals, banjo, ukulele, clarinet); Dan Abu-Absi (guitar); Drew Lindsay (piano).
Recording information: Garfield House.
Photographer: Mary Livoni.
Real Midnight is the second long player from roots combo Birds of Chicago and, with its poignant songwriting and richly realized production -- courtesy of Grammy-winner Joe Henry -- it raises the band's profile considerably. The sweet and sour vocal mix of Allison Russell and JT Nero remains at the center of their sound, which continues to tread the dusty Americana roads of country, soul, folk, and rock. There's a newfound depth in their songs and tasteful arrangements that rely less on crowd-pleasing roots rockers and more on understated, subtly built mood pieces that tug at the heartstrings. From the bittersweet nostalgia of "Remember Wild Horses" to the spooky a cappella rave-up of "Barley" and the moody country-soul of the title track, this is the sound of a band coming into its own. ~ Timothy Monger