JT Nero and Allison Russell — now Birds of Chicago — had been friends and mutual admirers of each other's work for years before that friendship evolved into a musical and life partnership. They released their first studio album as a duo in 2012, and then followed up quickly with a live recording in 2013. Now, they've just put out their sophomore studio recording, Real Midnight, produced by Joe Henry. It's the last album recorded in Henry's acclaimed Garfield House studio in South Pasadena, Calif., and it showcases beautifully the pairing of JT's songwriting with Allison's powerful yet understated vocals.
During its recent Northeast tour, Birds of Chicago dodged a few blizzards and rolled into Saranac Lake, N.Y. for a Folk Alley Session taping at Beehive Productions studio. Here, with Joel Schwartz on guitar and Chris Merrill on bass, the group performs the title track of its new record, which Nero calls a "thesis statement" for the album. He says, "The darkness is coming, and we can't do anything about that, but what we can do is be good to each other and be good to the ones that we love. And it starts with the people who are right in front of you — your anchors. It's so easy to be the worst to the people you love the most."
Watch Birds of Chicago's full Folk Alley Session at FolkAlley.com.
Video produced by Linda Fahey of FolkAlley.com and Jeff Oehler and Sue Bibeau of Beehive Productions with audio assistance from Redia Spada and camera assistance from Lisa Godfrey.