Lingering string harmonies and an effervescent tempo that mercilessly chases after an evasive tone are only a slice of what folk fans can expect out of “Nightbird,” the all-new single from none other than the Wilson Banjo Co. A smoking percussive swing frames WBC’ emotive harmonies, which ascend skyward towards the heavens around every twist and turn leading up to the chorus. Singer Sarah Logan is on fire in this song, giving up some of her most divine verses to date and demonstrating a knack for capturing agile rhythm with the cadence of her vivid prose. Don’t let the title of this song fool you – “Nightbird” is hardly as nocturnal as you’d think and a wise pick for any serious music enthusiast this October.
There’s a feverish urgency in the restrained tempo of this single that we can’t escape from, even in moments where the band slows down a bit to bask in the radiant melodicism of the lyrics. Despite the swift pace of the instruments, no part of their execution feels rushed or pieced together in an attempt to salvage a fragmented jam. Everything’s got a specified place in this master mix, and the cutting-edge production doesn’t allow for anything to ever become muddied in the grander scheme of things.
“Nightbird” admittedly has one of the more polished EQs I’ve listened to among the output of active bluegrass bands lately, but there’s still an ample supply of rich tonality that lends to the authenticity of the song. The very notion that this track was technologically augmented is quickly dismissed as soon as those colorful strings enter the picture and we become hypnotized by their striking earthiness. In an era that has been dominated by halfhearted attempts at evocative acoustic music, it’s nice to hear a band that still takes the music seriously.
Surreal swagger is plentiful in “Nightbird,” and it matches up well with the contemporary bluegrass scene without blending the band’s sound into the crowd too much. With the erudite lyricism that this track sports, I don’t think it would ever be possible to get it confused with the fodder that typically sees consistent FM airplay nowadays; there’s simply too much emotion, too much-unfiltered intimacy for me to conceive anything different. You can tell that Sarah Logan is as dedicated a poet as she is a songwriter here, and if you ask me, that’s precisely why this band’s old-school style of ‘grass harmony is lighting up the underground as much as it has recently.
If you haven’t heard the music of Wilson Banjo Co. yet, I highly recommend giving “Nightbird” a listen this month. It’s got the solid bones to get you addicted to the band’s roaring tonality and self-aware lyrical content, and if my gut is right, I doubt it will be the last hit single we hear from them. They’ve got so much momentum behind their moniker at the moment that a song like this is bound to create some big waves inside their scene and abroad, and regardless of anything else, they’ve made a fan out of me.