13 Songs, 46 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

With their third full-length album, Black Prairie prove they’re not just a side project with members of The Decemberists. The sound is still plenty varied, but there’s a focus to the musicianship that seems less of a novelty and more of a serious pursuit. In short, they’re Portland, Ore.’s 2014 answer to the U.K.’s Fairport Convention of the '60s. The harmonies and folk rock of “Songs to Be Sung” resemble the feel of Unhalfbricking, while frontwoman Annalisa Tornfelt finds herself in the Sandy Denny role, which she never plays as anyone other than herself. Her solo performance on “If I Knew You Then” is striking, as are the moments she has to herself on “Cold Day” and “Count to Ten.” “The White Tundra” turns into an epic track (think “Tam Lin,” Fairport fans) based on band founder Chris Funk’s guitar riff and Tornfelt’s Norse-based poetry. Whatever bluegrass roots the band once revealed have been overpowered with electric instruments and a clear modern sound that’s well pointed out by producer Vance Powell (Dead Weather, Red Fang). 

EDITORS’ NOTES

With their third full-length album, Black Prairie prove they’re not just a side project with members of The Decemberists. The sound is still plenty varied, but there’s a focus to the musicianship that seems less of a novelty and more of a serious pursuit. In short, they’re Portland, Ore.’s 2014 answer to the U.K.’s Fairport Convention of the '60s. The harmonies and folk rock of “Songs to Be Sung” resemble the feel of Unhalfbricking, while frontwoman Annalisa Tornfelt finds herself in the Sandy Denny role, which she never plays as anyone other than herself. Her solo performance on “If I Knew You Then” is striking, as are the moments she has to herself on “Cold Day” and “Count to Ten.” “The White Tundra” turns into an epic track (think “Tam Lin,” Fairport fans) based on band founder Chris Funk’s guitar riff and Tornfelt’s Norse-based poetry. Whatever bluegrass roots the band once revealed have been overpowered with electric instruments and a clear modern sound that’s well pointed out by producer Vance Powell (Dead Weather, Red Fang). 

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3:06
3:25
4:15
4:41
2:51
2:47
3:20
3:57
3:54
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2:07

About Black Prairie

Portland's Black Prairie began in 2007 when Decemberists guitarist Chris Funk, having discovered the joys of the Dobro guitar, and Decemberists bassist Nate Query decided to start a mostly instrumental and acoustic string band as a side project. They enlisted another Decemberists member, Jenny Conlee, on accordion, and added two other veteran Portland musicians from popular local bands, guitarist and songwriter Jon Neufield, who played in Dolorean and Jackstraw, and singer and violinist Annalisa Tornfelt, who played in the Woolwines and Bearfoot. The resulting band blended together an impressive array of styles and textures, from tilted bluegrass, klezmer, and runaway Gypsy music to folk, blues, and a bit of jazz, resulting in a unique and fresh take on a kind of free-spirited alternative Americana. Signing to Sugar Hill Records, the band released an impressive debut, Feast of the Hunters' Moon, in 2010, following it up with A Tear in the Eye Is a Wound in the Heart in 2012. With Tornfelt emerging as a more than capable lead vocalist, Black Prairie's third album, Fortune, took a hard left turn into garage folk-rock territory, and featured all band originals. ~ Steve Leggett

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