For a band that originally came together to play a cancer benefit show for the Cricket Fund (set up in memory of Christina “Cricket” Russell—more on that later), The Krickets have accomplished quite a bit in two short years. In 2016, they cut their debut, Spanish Moss Sirens, in Muscle Shoals with Ben Tanner (Alabama Shakes) producing. This past October, they released Redbird, which was recorded at Brown Owl Studios in Nashville and produced by Sam Ashworth (Lone Bellows, Joy Williams–formerly of the Civil Wars).
The Krickets, comprised of Lauren Spring (guitar, fiddle, mandolin, banjo), Emily Stuckey (guitar, percussion, mandolin), Katrina Kolb (bass), Melissa Bowman Weigle (banjo—though now replaced by Katrina’s sister and multi-instrumentalist, Amanda) stick to and refine their “swamp-folk” sound, shifting through different shades of dark and light throughout “Redbird.”
The heart of the album lies in the title track, which is a prime example of the Krickets’ Southern gothic/noir sensibility. A solemn, meditative guitar riff accompanies Stuckey’s enticing vocals, with some sparse banjo lines adding tension to the piece. The lyrics describe how Stuckey would continually dream about her Grandmother shortly after she had passed away. In the dream, her Grandmother would try to whisper something, but Stuckey would wake up before deciphering what was said. What’s more bizarre is that Stuckey would often see redbirds during this time—in traditional folklore, seeing a redbird or cardinal means that you’re being visited by someone who has passed away. Without this added context from the band, the lyrics still depict a feeling of longing and regret, but Stuckey’s anecdote only heightens the haunting mood of the song.
Others, such as “Waiting in Vain,” further emphasize the dark, brooding vibe shown in “Redbird,” this time with a poignant fiddle and guitar segment. Rather than lamenting a deceased family member, this describes one pining for a lost lover. A similar situation is expressed in “You Didn’t Come After Me,” though this track seems to march in defiance of an old flame rather than live in the past.
Despite these somber moments, there are instances of hope and optimism throughout all of “Redbird.” “A Love Like Mine” describes the elation and joy felt when spending time with loved ones, with some fiddle and pedal/lap steel giving an additional ethereal effect. “May We Find” closes the album on a sweet note, beginning with an angelic three-part a cappella harmony and calling us to “find our way home” to a place of hope and love.
“Redbird” gives us equal doses of grief and hope—an album that is its own yin and yang. Even in the album’s bleaker moments, the Krickets still focus and emphasize the importance of making the most of the time you have and spending it with those you love. Check out their video of the title track here, and be sure to order your copy here, as $1 per album sold is donated to the Cricket Fund, which helps fund mammograms for women who cannot afford them.