The five-piece string band, enters 2012 coming off an incredible performance for millions on A Prairie Home Companion, ready to launch their second studio album, Out With the Crow, and on a mission to leave the familiarity of the Rocky Mountains and take their sound to unknown country roads.
If the albums Honey Moonshine and Live at the Western Jubilee were the band coming together to find their sound, Out With the Crow is the album where each member humbly stakes a claim on the record, letting their four friends prop them up. This wasn’t by accident.
The album was born in September 2011, when Mike Clark wanted to make a stop-animation video for Desi’s song “Giant”. He asked for a studio version of the song and a weekend in Inaiah’s and Desi’s Pueblo home. This house session would be one of the first tracks cut for this album.
Fast forward to late November when the band had a break from shows and decided to spend it making Out With the Crow during more house sessions. This time the band rustled together their resources to form a studio capable of capturing their sound.
Instead of recording whatever floated from their instruments and into the recorder, the band favored getting the best possible performance out of each member and then gauged each effort by the level of enthusiasm shared by the band.
The result was the strongest and most diverse Haunted Windchimes album yet – one where you remember the performances of each member, not merely the songs. Each ‘Chime was given the room to explore their craft and all five have moments and songs where you feel them breaking through.
Take “Say Yer Sorry” by Chela Lujan. Her voice swelters with anger, lust, jealousy and pain in a story of a woman looking for an apology from a cheating man with a .357 Magnum and “two good bullets.”
Mike Clark, the band’s utility man, as he’s affectionately referred to, turns from support man to stamping his raspy whiskey- and cigarette-driven voice on the rousing title track, “Out With the Crow.”
Even Sean Fanning, the band’s upright bass player, gets the spotlight in a ballad featuring a slow and monumental sound in “May.”
Perhap Desi and the Windchimes took the biggest risk in the songs “Giant” and “Little Box.” These little vignettes are both naked and bold forcing her to the front of the band. Her bandmates are there playing along side her but you sense her solitary vulnerability.
If the theme for the album is a band exploring their talents, Inaiah Lujan effortlessly displays his full range, both in his story-telling skills and in matching his voice to that story, every time pushing himself and all his talents to write a story worth listening to. On one end is “Hallelujah,” which recalls his earlier “funeral pop” sound. Then in “Harvest,” he paints a slow picture of leaving his lover, trying to console her as he heads out on the road. And, as on every other HW album, he offers commentary in “Make It Rain” on the state of this vast Union with statements as “nothing compares to the evil that they do.”
The Haunted Windchimes took a risk letting all five members take the band in a different direction, revealing to the listener the passions and motivations for each Windchime. Out With the Crow could have been five different sounds tearing the album and band a part. Instead the album comes together nicely and the Haunted Windchimes, like all good bands, rediscover more about themselves, pushing the imaginary boundaries of their craft.
It harkens back to a time when all that stood between you and your freedom was a good American truck and an open county road.