That sound mirrors the warmth of his hushed vocals and the aching instrumentation as they filled the City Museum in St. Louis on May 24 for the band's Show Me Shows taping.
Ringle opened "Bird on a Leash" with a quick breath and an up-stroke across the strings of his road-battered Gibson guitar. Short, dry violin notes conspired with sinewy longer draws from a second violin. Cello bled into the background, as if scored from a razor blade pulled across skin. There's poetry in Ringle's music and lyrics, informed by the poet James Wright, low and hushed like a midnight promise.
Museum visitors passed surveying the displays, pausing to hear the susurrant vocalist conflate a lover with "A bird on some leash, flying nowhere but dying to be" and strum his guitar as the band provided an antique bed of strings in the museum's "Bug Room." Like light handfuls of seed, the few spare, sonic shards of Horse Feathers' short performance were devoured in a flutter by the scurry of the gathering audience.
Others craned their necks around nearby corners, unsure what to make of the moment, or what they were hearing. They strained against their trepidation to find out that, like "bird[s] on a leash," they may have wished to fly towards that sound, but were somehow unable -- perhaps, in Ringle's words, they were all "set in [their] ways like the sun." That feeling of murmured loss complemented Ringle's work.
For "Bird on a Leash," Ringle's quiet showmanship and lyrical reverie were supported by a host of orchestral musicians -- violinists, Nathan Crockett and Angie Kuzma; cellist, Lauren Vidal; and drummer, Dustin Dybvig, who stomped on a tambourine and rocked another one in his hand, wearing a smile and a cool pair of shades.
The acoustic setting in the City Museum's Bug Room was a thing of rare beauty, itself becoming Romantic art, with its suggestion of birds and bugs, all captured on video and presented here for your enjoyment.
Video: Jarred Gastreich for Show Me Shows
Sound: Andy Coco and R&R Music Labs
Writer: Will Kyle