Written by: Alex Green
It’s hard not to marvel at the literate pop elegance of Bradley Skaught of the Bye Bye Blackbirds.
For the past decade or so, Skaught has been one the most thoughtful and engaging singer/songwriters around and his band’s albums are always redolent with a delicious blend of punch and jangle.
The ‘Birds’ new long player Take Out The Poison is due out in August and it’s a decidedly brilliant addition to their already winning discography.
The first single is a rootsy and existential duet (with co-writer Lindsay Paige Garfield), aptly titled “Duet.”
Of the song, Skaught tells SEM: “It has a wonderful string arrangement by Mark Clifford. It’s the first time we’ve used strings on a record and it’s been a dream of mine for a long time, so that was a thrill. It’s a country pop/folk rock song, but with some twists, I think. The combination of folk rock and strings calls to mind Dillard & Clark or later Beau Brummels, Bang-era Neil Diamond maybe. Not that it’s a particularly 60’s sounding song — it’s just arranged in that manner, I think. Plus handclaps. And Lenny’s killer honky tonk solo. It’s a particularly emotionally resonant song for me — from initial inspiration to execution and now all these months later, it still takes me right to the place it grew from and I hope that translates for folks hearing it. It’s different, too — different for us…seemed like a fun way to introduce the new record.”
As for what the song tackles thematically, Skaught says: “Although I feel like I can step back and get some perspective on our stuff in order to find the themes that run through it, every song feels like such a little unique event to me that I’m not always aware of adding to an existing narrative. That said, “Duet” came out of an extended period of loss that we’ve been going through — we’ve lost bandmates and friends who’ve quit or moved away, but also we’ve had friends and family who’ve passed in the past few years. To me, the song is about keeping our loved ones with us when they’re gone, and how a musical bond is such a powerful one. When you sing with someone, or create something with someone, it’s such a deep human connection. And when musical/creative partners leave you, you still have that bond — sometimes captured on record! Metaphorically, that works for me in terms of thinking about all relationships. Relationships as a creative endeavor. So I think it’s a new thematic addition to the catalog — a relatively fresh one that comes out of a really trying period for us. But, I should add, a loving and relatively hopeful one, however bittersweet.”