Tough Old Bird
'The Old Great Lakes'
On Tough Old Bird's new full-length album, "The Old Great Lakes," brothers Matthew and Nathan Corrigan expand the scope of their sound. The Buffalo-based, multi-instrumentalist duo's 2017 EP — the folksy "Where the Great Beasts Are Buried" — was steeped in acoustic warmth and earnest, sweet-voiced storytelling. With an expanded instrument palette that includes frequent contributor Jay Corwin's bass playing, Marty Benzinger's drums, the fiddle work of Charlie Caughlin, and Sean Ebert's trumpet, "The Old Great Lakes" glistens with mid-tempo songwriting that gets closer to country and 90's college rock. I like to think that R.E.M. wishes it had written "Lake Erie Come Home." Throughout the collection's 11 songs, a softness and optimism in the musical delivery that wasn't present on Tough Old Bird's previous albums comes to the fore.
The Corrigans' brilliant penchant for engaging story-songs is as strong as ever, but the music doesn't show signs of a more traditional approach to Americana and folk until midway through the album, with the banjo-driven "Seven Lights" and "A Little More Time," bathed in acoustic guitar and accordion. But later on, "Song for the Lighthouse Keeper" goes big and atmospheric, with cavernous electric guitar, while "Swallows Song" features lush keyboard colors and electronic underpinnings. With "The Old Great Lakes" Tough Old Bird just may be Western New York's answer to indie folk bands Lord Huron and The Low Anthem.
Tough Old Bird plays with Rochester folk bands Archimedes and Everdene Holler on Saturday, December 14, 8 p.m. at Mission Hall, 125 Caroline Street. Free admission, donation is suggested. 746-3048. facebook.com/rocmissionhall; tougholdbirdmusic.com.