CD Review – THE STRAY BIRDS – MAGIC FIRE by Michael Smith

Yep Roc/Redeye Worldwide/The Planet Company


Now a four-piece with addition of drummer/percussionist Shane Leonard, for the first time former Lancaster County, Penns now Nashvillians The Stray Birds – Maya de Vistry (voice, fiddle, banjo, guitar), Charles Muench (voice, banjo, bass) and Oliver Craven (voice, fiddle, guitar, mandolin) – enlisted the services of an outside producer, three-time Grammy winner Larry Campbell (Bob Dylan, Levon Helm, Willie Nelson) for their third album, itself their most collaborative to date. The trademark killer harmonies are still very much their strongest point, Craven and de Vistry very much the core, matching some truly wonderful musical interplay across the dozen songs, and boy has the addition of Leonard given the sound that extra shot, from the perky brushwork on All The News – you’d never know that “all the news is bad” – and the hoedown Sabrina to loping groove of Radio. There’s even a little oldtime gospelisin’ on opening track Shining In The Distance.