For a band named Birds of Play, it’s no surprise that avian references abound in their work. Hence the title of their new album, Murmurations Vol. 2, releasing Feb. 25 as the follow-up to their September 2021 album, Murmurations Vol. 1. The band will celebrate the release date with a hometown performance at the Sheridan Opera House, 110 N. Oak St. in Telluride. Showtime is 9 p.m. Reserved balcony tickets are $30; general-admission floor tickets are $20 (plus a $5 ticketing fee for each).
Murmuration describes a phenomenon in which flocks of starlings take flight simultaneously, swooping and soaring in unison like a shape-shifting cloud. One could say Birds of Play does the same, entwining their voices and instruments into a single entity that forms unique patterns with each song.
Those patterns continue on Murmurations Vol. 2, which picks up Murmurations Vol. 1’s exploration of the natural world and how humans connect with it.
When the band launched a Kickstarter campaign for the new album, lead singer and songwriter Alex Paul explained his inspiration, noting, “The land has been instrumental in how I’ve come to write and share my musicality. It’s very tied to love — love of the land and connection to the land.”
Paul, who also plays guitar, mandolin and bass, formed the band with friends Jack Tolan (guitars, mandolin, vocals) and Eric Shedd (bass, mandolin, guitar and vocals) after winning a solo competition at the 2018 Telluride Blues & Brews Festival, along with a Telluride Arts District grant to record an album. They released Anthrophony in 2019.
The trio became a foursome after meeting classically trained violinist and vocalist Anneke Dean in 2020. Sharing a love of wide-open spaces, they created Murmurations Vol. 1 as a concept album expressing their “deep reverence for these magnificent places, and the awe, respect and wonder that exude from that reverence.”
When American Songwriter magazine premiered the Vol. 1 track “Gale and Doug,” it noted the song’s “special, earthy feeling,” adding, “the musicianship exhibited is what really makes the track something extraordinary.”
That musicianship migrates seamlessly to Murmurations Vol. 2. Each one of the album’s eight songs is filled with intricately woven acoustic arrangements and tight harmonies that swoop and soar together, just like those starlings.
Birds of Play will bring their Murmurations to several Colorado venues and is slated to perform in the Telluride Bluegrass Festival’s Telluride Band Contest. The festival takes place June 16-19.