By Matt Wickstrom
LEXINGTON, Ky. — If Birds Could Fly, the Appalachian folk/roots troupe headed by Brittany and Andrew Carter, have released a dozen old and raw demos taken from various times on the road into the digital landscape. The collection, titled Long Gone Songs, contains raw cuts from 2012 to 2016 and can be found on the band’s official YouTube channel.
The Long Gone Songs ooze with a strong sense of intimacy that harkens to a simpler time when music didn’t lean so heavily toward modern day bells and whistles and instead relied on the artist’s God given talent, which If Birds Could Fly have in droves. Brittany Carter has a tendency to draw listeners in with a commanding voice that’s equal parts Dolly Parton and Janis Joplin, wearing her emotions on her sleeve as she conjures up powerful harmonies that dwarf the Appalachian Mountains while hardly breaking a sweat.
Stand outs among the compilation include “Saturday Night,” a song where Carter is caught with her mind wandering back to her sunny California roots, and “American Dream,” a straightforward cut where Carter contemplates the uncertainty of how her American Dream is playing out, at one point saying “Maybe we’ll have babies / Maybe we’ll just have dogs” prior to building intensity as she echoes “Oh say can you see / We’re all living the American Dream.”
Coupled with Carter’s fierce vocals is a matter of fact-ness and sincerity that make her words truly come to life, as if you were a fly on the wall of the room observing as these tracks were played out. The sensation is similar to the one radiating from the group during their live performances, which have a way of luring listeners in, with Carter’s voice acting as a siren song.
Much was the case recently near the band’s home base in the Appalachian Mountains at FloydFest, where guitarist Matt Mullins joined the Carters as the band spun their Appalachian folk ballads for dense and attentive crowds with Brittany Carter wailing into the mic as she simultaneously hunched over and banged away on a cajon, giving a distinct foot-stomping flare to each of the group’s performances.
Listen to Long Gone Songs below.
If Birds Could Fly’s next visit to Lexington will be on Sept. 13 to perform at the Chevy Chase Inn. Keep up with the band on Facebook.