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We Will Become Like Birds (Bonus Track)

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Album Review

When Virginia-born, Boston-based singer/songwriter Erin McKeown first appeared, her ethnomusicology degree from Brown got a lot of play in her press releases, and she was lumped in, uneasily, with various other "new folk" folks. Her contributions to the 2001 project Voices on the Verge (think of a younger, hipper, and less corny 4 Bitchin' Babes) didn't mesh with those of bandmates Jess Klein, Beth Amsel, and Rose Polenzani very well, largely due to the fact that even early in her career, she was never a folkie in the traditional sense, yet her style was never confrontational enough to put her in with the Moldy Peaches wing of the New York anti-folk cadre. McKeown has since pulled further and further away from the folk (and even folk-rock) ghetto, and We Will Become Like Birds is a full-fledged, richly textured pop record in the tradition of Aimee Mann or Sam Phillips. Soothing acoustic and jangly electric guitars support McKeown's appealingly low-key vocals, with occasional touches like the electric piano underpinning "Delicate December" adding sonic variety. The songs are a varied and melodically sturdy lot that never settle for mere prettiness, with the hard-fought optimism of "Air" and the more downbeat moodiness of "Float" marking the album's emotional poles. The mixed emotions and soaring chorus of the Michael Penn-like closer, "You Were Right About Everything," make it the album's highlight, but the entirety of We Will Become Like Birds is excellent; less bound by genre restrictions than ever before, McKeown has taken the opportunity to soar.

Customer Reviews

Profoundly Uplifting

This album will make you feel good. McKeown abandons some of her signature guitar virtuosity to make room for an atmospheric and at times ethereal experience produced by a superb ensemble of musicians and magnificent arrangements. EM's lyrics are subtle, profound, intense, and unpretentious as always - quite a feat considering the light-hearted, life affirming message that runs through most of the album - a theme that would likely morph into saccharin, bubblegum mush in less capable hands. EM keeps it real. She lifts your spirits without pandering. These songs will grow on you until you're either generally happier, or obsessed with Erin's music, or both.

There is one cheesy lyric on this album, one cliché, but it's an ancient latin phrase and she sings it in the original tongue, so, well, that's kind of awesome, no?

Per aspera, per ardua, ad astra. Right the !@# on, Ms. McKeown.


So good. Saved me from myself after a breakup.


Born: 1977 in Northampton, MA

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Raised in Fredricksburg, VA, singer/songwriter Erin McKeown began her folk career by performing in local clubs and coffeehouses at night. By day, she attended Brown University to study ethnomusicology, a field that would eventually fuel the diversity and depth of her own music. In 1995, McKeown entered the mid-Atlantic song contest held by the songwriters' association in Washington, DC, and finished as a semi-finalist. With proof that others believed in her talent, she worked hard to found a label...
Full Bio