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Brown Bird: Bringing Light To Dark Themes In New Americana Music14:05

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When David Lamb and MorganEve Swain of the Rhode Island-based band Brown Bird took to the stage at this year's Newport Folk Festival, they played for just under and hour.

But they stole the show.

In one fell swoop, critics said, the rootsy duo went from Ocean State unknowns to one of folk music's most exciting rising stars.

Lamb founded the group in 2003. And though it's metamorphosed through various band members and arrangements over the years, the music holds fast to its core sound: Lamb's own wine-dark voice that speaks of the blood of sinners and the struggles of saints.

He's been called a modern American folk poet, a sobriquet that's not so surprising when you discover that he is a preacher's son.

"I think it raised in me a sense of wondering and questioning," Lamb said," and a very personal desire to have a relationship with a higher power."

So yes, a preacher's son. But a restless, brooding one. He left his father's church as a teenager.

MorganEve Swain of Brown Bird in the Radio Boston studios. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
MorganEve Swain of Brown Bird in the Radio Boston studios. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

"There were a lot of things that didn't make sense to me," Lamb said. The religion was confining, too narrowly focused on one interpretation of mysteries Lamb believed were evident everywhere.

"Religion is a metaphor for the same story. It's all telling a message. Whether you believe every part of the metaphor, the message is what really matters," Lamb said.

The metaphors make their way into Brown Bird's foot-stomping, barn-burning music. The style is not easily defined. Part roots, a dash of Americana, a whiff of Eastern European Romany music and a dose of heavy metal, too.


  • David Lamb
  • MorganEve Swain


This segment aired on September 22, 2011.

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