Published Sep 30, 2014Taylor Ashton and Adam Iredale-Gray, the pair behind Fish and Bird, aren't your average fiddle-and-banjo duo, and they certainly don't serve up traditional fare on this album. Ashton's voice is more suited to pop than stringband music, and these are pop songs set to fiddle and banjo, rather than a progressive take on the genre. In fact, with electric guitar and drums, there are times when the acoustic instruments really play — pardon the pun — second fiddle. There's no shortage of great ideas crammed into Something in the Ether, Fish and Bird's fourth album, and their second with Ryan Boeur (electric and acoustic guitars), Ben Kelly (drums) and Zoe Guigueno (upright bass, vocals) in tow, but sometimes less is more, and parts of this album sound a bit too much like acoustic prog rock, overly busy with time signature changes and arrangements.
The opening track, "Cold Salty," is almost more of a medley than a song. While that pastiche approach to songwriting can be interesting, it shares that famous prog rock pitfall: the groove changes just as soon as you've settled into it. The last four tracks of the album are simpler and better, with "Boots" featuring just the right interplay between bowed bass and pizzicato fiddle. Guigueno's bass playing is subtle but energetic, and she shines on "Go-To-Bed Light," a moody, insomniac lullaby to wrap up the album. (Fiddlehead Records)