Album Review: Two Bird Stone – Hands & Knees

If you had asked me a decade ago if I liked country music, I would’ve quickly spat out a big, “No!” I assumed that country music meant “pop country,” with thick twangs and flashy outfits. I adamantly thought of country music as “not cool,” and didn’t want to associate with it. Meanwhile, in my naivety, I thoroughly enjoyed all sorts of fiddle heavy Irish music, not realizing that a lot of country and bluegrass music takes its roots from the Irish music that I loved.

Of course, in recent years, this viewpoint of mine has drastically changed, and I relish in good country and bluegrass music regularly. I was happy when the debut album from Two Bird Stone found its way into my inbox. The band’s founder, Liam Thomas Bailey, takes all of that global influence I previously overlooked and packs it into the band’s debut album.

“The music of Two Bird Stone is fueled by Bailey’s contemporary Americana songwriting and the group’s deep appreciation for the traditional fiddle music of Ireland, Scandinavia, and North America. Paying tribute to the many swirling cultures that make up the American identity, Two Bird Stone also carefully incorporates traditional melodies and musical tendencies of cultures abroad to reflect the dimensions of this land’s powerful diversity.”

Orchestrated with a hand picked collection of some of Nashville’s & New York’s finest musicians, Two Bird Stone‘s debut album is a good beginning for something special.

The album opens with the title track, a catchy Old Time Appalachian Duet featuring guest vocalist, Sarah Siskind. “Hands & Knees” is a delightful opener with excellently blended vocal harmonies, steady banjo picking, and flowing strings. This track is what I like to refer to as a “porch swing song.” Relaxing, sweet, and catchy melodies take you away for a couple of minutes.

From there you feel as though you are suddenly jolted into an Irish Pub with the opening riffs for “Shoebox Money.” The song then turns quickly into feeling like a rowdy country/western bar as the guest guitarist, Kenny Vaughn accompanies the raspy rock vocals provided.

“Me and My Friends” cools you down a bit with its rock-a-bye feel, only to be woken up once more by appropriately named, “Wake Me Up,” a song which “acknowledges one’s capacity to be their own worst enemy while reminding the listener that there are tools for limiting this kind of suffering.” This track also features a fun fiddle interlude.

“When Somebody Can See Your Soul” sweeps in and delivers a lovely story of soul mates, but not necessarily from a romantic relationship standpoint – a phenomenon I know I’ve felt in my life, and it’s wonderful to hear it in song form. The slower melodic theme continues into “You Gotta Go Away (If You Wanna Come Back),” which quickly picks up into a very Irish influenced jig, which I really dig.

The album continues its sweet delivery with “99” and “I Already Know What’s On Your Mind,” and reels back in with “Needle and Thread,” featuring some more electric guitar from Vaughn. The album wraps up with a beautiful love song, “Drive It ‘Til The Wheels Fall Off,” which is a tribute to Bailey‘s wife, and chronicles their first ten years together romantically.

Hands & Knees is set to release on September 11th, 2020. It can be purchased on vinyl or CD from Two Bird Stone‘s shop, or enjoyed on Spotify. In the meantime, you can enjoy the singles that have been released up to the album’s released on the band’s page on Spotify:

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