“Small Brown Birds” looks for joy in the midst of hard times. The songs touch on wintry themes with compassion, honesty, and sometimes wit, tracing a journey from sadness to hope and from winter to spring. The musical arrangements range from gentle and lush to downright danceable.
The album showcases Zoe Mulford’s clear voice, sprightly clawhammer banjo, and resonant guitar. An American songwriter now living in the north of England, Zoe charms audiences with story-driven songwriting and an unlabored vocal style sometimes compared to that of Joan Baez. She draws on the traditional music of Appalachia and the British Isles and steals a few pages from the American Songbook to create music that feels both comfortably lived-in and sparklingly fresh.