Oh! My Blackbird-Dare Me
Oh! My Blackbird is a NYC-based chamber folk trio led by singer/songwriter Annie Sullivan. Sullivan’s songs are quirky, personal, and consistently catchy. On Dare Me, the band collects 10 songs that blend lush and sophisticated instrumental and vocal arrangements with decidedly immature lyrical themes. Which is not to say that the lyrics are expertly crafted. Sullivan’s songs about young romance and heartbreak are honest and perceptive.
Although their playing and singing might not be the strongest (or most in tune), the arrangements are consistently great, and the flaws add a more personal and human character to the songs. Similar to late-60’s Beach Boys, what is fascinating about Dare Me is the juxtaposition of naïve ideas and lyrics placed on an exquisitely crafted backdrop. The string and vocal arrangements recall The Beach Boys, The Incredible String Band or, more recently, Dent May. The chord progressions, with idiosyncratic shifts in tonality and with gorgeous suspensions, alternate between typically folky chords and more sophisticated power-pop writing, echoing the dichotomy of naivety and sophistication.
Opening and title track, Dare Me, begins with layers of cello notes and harmonics, swirling around until the vocals and guitar come in, setting the album up on a grand scale and transitioning seamlessly into the simple folk song. The songs that follow play a similar game. Closing song Broken Hearts and Leafless Trees is a lush anthem about moving on from unrequited love. As the contrapuntal web of vocals grows and then dissolves into nothing at the end of the song, the strings carry on in a tense, but euphonic final swirling counterpoint, ending the album like it started.
Check out the album on Bandcamp and check out their video for Little Bird below: