In their debut full-length album, The Birth of Birds, the Ruralists take Luke Hawley’s simple folk shuffles and, using all the instruments in their machine shed, run them against the grain. Howling electric guitars create a lush landscape of sound, sharp strokes over the fundamental and foundational rhythm section. Splashes of color like basement brass, the odd accordion, and a century-old pipe organ brighten the corners. And at the center of this curious carousel, Hawley’s songs of loving, longing, leaving, and coming back again, the fight for fidelity, grabbing and grappling at the impermanent, the interlocular, the veiny and visceral mess of the here and now stacked against the dream and desire of better days ahead. The songs are melodic, even down to the drums, hooks hooked with hooks, like the old barrel-of-monkeys game. They’re narrative both in lyric and music, dynamic and surprising, at times bombastic, at times almost uncomfortably intimate.
Don’t fly over these songs. Invite them to Sunday dinner, push back from the table and listen. You’ll find yourself in it, humming quietly along with the themes and variations on the heart in conflict. And don’t worry about it, the band will do the dishes.