Despite having performed together for many years and self-released live albums (At Home, Lonely Town), Until You Find Your Green is the first proper full-length release from Meg and Laura Baird. Originally a limited release in 2012 the album, which features sessions recorded at Laura’s home recording studio, has finally made it to a wider release via Ba Da Bing Records.
Whilst I’m more familiar with Meg Baird’s work ranging from early Espers, collaborations with the likes of Sharron Kraus, through to her creative solo work and heavier, but no less enthralling offerings of Heron Oblivion, I’m less familiar with Laura although she also performed with Espers. It was through Glenn Jones‘ last two albums in which she played a major part in both engineering the sessions and, as he states, “a trusted sounding board throughout” that I discovered more of her music and realised how much I’d been missing. She’s currently working on a solo folk album which is due for release early next year. They are two very talented sisters, so this is something of a landmark album, even if it has taken a few years to move to a wider release.
From the moment you press play you become aware of a rustic natural intimacy, something that runs throughout the ten tracks, heightened by the occasional field recording of birds and crickets. Guitar, banjo, flute, cello, fiddle, mandolin, and upright bass all feature and play their part in making this such a homely album, but it’s their harmonies that stop you in your tracks. Whether in song or wordless, as on the psych-tinged Going West with Secrets on which their intertwining harmonies spiral around the flute, there is an affinity in their voices which inevitably comes from a sisterly bond.
Those harmonies, together with simple, sensitive arrangements give their music an intensely visual and emotive feel, a great example being Meg’s open cyclic guitar melodies of New Green Place which hints at American Primitivism. Apart from the more rousing, yet ghostly, Until the Bottle is Dry, the tracks range from plaintive meditations to moments of intense brightness and escape. It’s easy to imagine dappled sunlight in a forest glade on the instrumental Looking at Things Close Up, the music and title conjure the childlike wonder of exploring the natural world through a heightened awareness.
That sense of escape is heightened by pace and melodies which beckon a stillness of the listener, something that many of us are strangers to in a world where technology encourages constant distraction. I found myself being continually drawn back to certain songs which offer respite on tap, as on the likes of Towpath Drill
And then it’s quiet
It gets too easy
To stand and still
If this is your first dip into the music of The Baird Sisters, then let it not be your last. Until You Find Your Green is one of the most beautiful albums of 2016, one I know I’ll constantly be revisiting. Take some time out and escape.
Until You Find Your Green is out now on Ba Da Bing Records