If success is playing over 700 shows and releasing three wildly successful studio albums, then Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds have it. Their presence on stage is infectious, contributing to a vast and ever-growing festival scene. The Brooklyn-based band just released their newest addition to the catalogue, a two-disc live album titled Fowl Play, that provides enough horsepower and sheer grit to get you in the mood to roll down the windows and hit the road.
The album starts hard and heavy with “Freight Train,” complete with wailing horns and a voice that could bring just about anyone to their knees. It’s no surprise that lead vocalist Arleigh Kincheloe can use her voice to soar over the rest of her seven-piece band. “Freight Train” is how you start a live album. If you’re new to the band, then that’s the song that will keep you listening.
“My House” slows it down, with that 50’s soul feel almost comparable to a Sam Cooke ballad. The song is bookended with Kincheloe’s sultry voice, but the meat of the song is the guitar solo in the middle. You’ll definitely want to go back and listen again to get the full effect. For a band who prides themselves on hard-hitting, gritty rock, the ballad is where you really see the definition and talent. Ballads can be tough for a large band, but their ability to settle down and hit you with the feels is undeniable.
Disc two opens with “Dirt,” which is a prime example of why you should set the computer down and go see them live. The attitude and low-end growl is what makes Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds so popular among a vast fan base. The harmonica and sax solo battle is one for the ages, grabbing your attention from every angle. Arleigh’s brother Jackson Kincheloe on harmonica and Brian Graham on saxophone somehow fit more notes into a solo than what should be possible. But nevertheless, it builds to a full-band roar, like a battle cry after winning the war.
Fans crave live albums, and this one does not disappoint. It appeals to just about every genre, and provides funky, gritty jams that can get just about anyone moving. Get your copy on their Bandcamp where you can also preview the album. They don’t currently have any tour dates announced, but keep a close eye on their website for upcoming tour and festival announcements. Do yourself a favor and hop on the Dirty Birds train, because wherever it’s going, you’re in for one wild ride.
Key Tracks: Freight Train, Dr. Feelgood, Dirt