Magic Fire is an album of firsts for The Stray Birds: their first with
an outside producer, their first with venerable guest musicians, and their
first truly collaborative songwriting effort. More importantly, perhaps,
it's an album of mosts: the most exciting and engaging music they've ever
composed paired with their most outspoken and insightful lyrics yet.
Magic Fire builds on the success of The Stray Birds' 2014 Yep Roc
Medicine, which was hailed by NPR's World Caf? for its "strong harmonies
and sharp songwriting" and debuted at #2 on the Billboard Bluegrass chart.
Guitar World praised their "heartfelt creativity," while the Philadelphia
City Paper called the band "stunning," and Mountain Stage applauded their
singular ability to "successfully draw on the rich traditions of American
folk music while still sounding modern." It was that unique formula that
first brought them national attention and fueled their breakout in 2012,
when their self-titled/self-released debut landed amongst NPR's Top Ten
Folk/Americana Albums of the Year and earned them major festival
performances everywhere from MerleFest to Scotland's Celtic Connections.
When it came time to record Magic Fire, The Stray Birds knew they were
ready to take an ambitious step. They retreated to Milan Hill, New York, a
small town outside of Woodstock in the Hudson River Valley, and teamed up
with Larry Campbell. The three-time GRAMMY Award-winning producer (best
known for his work with luminaries like Bob Dylan, Levon Helm, Paul Simon,
and Willie Nelson) enlisted his preferred engineer, Justin Guip (another
three-time GRAMMY Award-winner who worked closely with the late Helm), and
the group spent ten days together joyously exploring and creating the music
that would become Magic Fire.
"Though a few of the new songs had been on stage in the past year, we
granted most of these songs the opportunity to come to life right there in
the studio," says Maya de Vitry, who splits her time between fiddle,
guitar, and banjo in addition to singing. "It was intoxicating to go to
this place of focus with songs that still felt so fresh and free."
"We'd never worked with anyone other than just an engineer in the studio
before," adds Charles Muench, who plays banjo and bass in addition to
contributing to the group's lush three-part vocal harmonies. "Larry was on
our short list of people who we wanted to work with, and it was clear after
a few conversations with him that nothing was off limits for this record.
He offered up not only his production and direction, but also his playing
to any and all of the music."The Stray Birds Website