Exclusive: Birds and Arrows premiere video, ready new album
In the past, I’ve had my doubts when it came to Birds and Arrows, the husband-and-wife duo of Chapel Hill’s Andrea and Pete Connolly paired with cellist Josh Starmer. Their folk tunes are pretty to be sure, built on charming melodies and easily relatable emotions, but their writing has often felt more cliched than original. Despite my past impressions, I’m cautiously optimistic for Coyotes, the outfit’s forthcoming third LP, set for self-release on Mar. 19. The impetus for my change of heart is “Firefly,” the album’s lead single, the video for which Shuffle is proud to premiere. That’s the clip steaming at the top of the post.
The arrangement trips through the bleary-eyed ether between Fleet Foxes and The Beatles. What sounds like an effect-enriched sitar (actually a dilruba played by Starmer; thanks to him for the clarification) lends heady happiness to simple folk picking, piercing harmonies and ambling percussion. Tight and transfixing, the music backs a narrative that finds the Connollys finally putting their lovely imagery to powerful use. “I can’t wait for the day when land lines are back in style,” Pete offers, twisting what could be a sappy twee sentiment into a wonderful description of wanting his lover to leave messages on his answering machine, so he can verify that his ecstasy is real. The words then move on to a firefly trapped in a jar, utilizing the poor insect as a metaphor for love: Keep it in a jar, and it it suffocates. Let it roam free, and it might fly away.
The video illustrates the analogy. Andrea walks calmly through a field until she is suddenly surrounded by a crowd of people who buzz about her like bugs. Little by little, the crowd dwindles, until the only person who remains is her loving husband. Combined with the song, it’s a potent expression of the trials and pitfalls that await us all on the journey to finding the “one.” If the record lives up to this moving clip, then Coyotes promises to be a rare treat. Jump over to Birds and Arrows’ Soundcloud page to check out four more encouraging cuts destined for the album. —Jordan Lawrence