North Carolina based Bowerbirds had a lot of life experience to pour into their forthcoming album The Clearing, and a lot of it wasn’t pretty. Band members Phil Moore (vocals, guitar) and Beth Tacular (accordion, vocals) suffered a rift in their romantic relationship, which subsequently resulted in a yearlong dissolution of the band. During that time, they experienced the trials of illness and loneliness before finally reuniting both personally and creatively.
In a six-minute documentary on the making of the album, produced by Creato Destructo, Beth and Phil chronicle the struggles that brought them back around to the musical process and how their experiences shaped the tone of the EP. Of the process, Beth says, “We wanted to make the album as beautiful as we can and have it contain all of the darkness that we have in our minds on a daily basis...and have it sort of contain that but also have it contain all the amazingness and beauty and wonder that we have and try to make the wonder win.”
The tension between light and dark that Tacular speaks of is reflected perfectly in the single release “Tuck the Darkness In.” Lyrically the track is taciturn and dour, the kind of self-reflective soul searching that emotional turmoil brings out in people. The difference between this track and the sappy poems your roommate wrote when his girlfriend left him is that Bowerbird’s musings are interesting and universal and they don’t get sucked up into the darker elements of life.
Female background vocals and harmonization as well as a building crescendo of drum beats cast a hopeful light over the song. Even when interrupted by a gorgeously melancholy violin, the track retains an atmosphere of anticipation and forward trajectory that invigorates the listener. The meaning of the song title is ambiguous; “Tuck the Darkness In” could imply the tendency to hold bad feelings inside, but after quite a few listens, it seems more likely that the tune espouses putting darkness to rest, and moving on with the brighter side of life. The Clearing is set for release on March 6 on Dead Oceans and Bowerbirds will be touring as a quintet throughout the U.S. this spring. The mini-documentary, advance purchase of the album, and free downloads are available here.