Weaving a web of lush orchestration, American Gothic sensibilities and wintry murder ballads set against a backdrop of dark, shimmering folk, Vernon’s previous band SubRosa echoes in The Keening’s chamber doom, flowing with flute, strings, harp, French horn, piano, organ and hammered dulcimer.
Largely composed at a retreat in Joshua Tree and a friend’s family homestead in Kamas, Utah, Little Bird was recorded in December 2020 at Hallowed Halls in Portland, Oregon with “Engine-ear” Billy Anderson. Anderson’s long resume includes such luminaries as Melvins, Neurosis, Mr. Bungle, Fantomas, High on Fire, Bell Witch, Amenra, Agalloch, Cathedral, Cattle Decapitation, Red House Painters, Sick of it All, Sleep, and Swans.
Anderson collaborated with Vernon and Witch Mountain drummer Nathan Carson as co-producers of the album, and Anderson also played bass on the album. A host of Portland’s finest session musicians lent their talents to Little Bird, including Andrea Morgan (Exulansis) on violin. Also contributing was Kelly Schilling (Dreadnought and Bleakheart) on flute, Lily Breshears (Sheers) on harp, Allegra Sauvage on cello, Dan Partridge on French horn, and additional vocals contributed by Erin Jane Laroue (Jamais Jamais), Kayla Dixon (Witch Mountain), Lindsay Heath (Lindsay Heath Orchestra, Violet Temper), and Lisa Zimmerman. Little Bird was completed in July 2021, mixed by Billy Anderson and mastered by Justin Weis at Trakworx in San Francisco.
An ultra-melodic foray into haunted bogs, endless wells, secret crimes, jeweled cages and the unenviable curse of being a murder witness abound, Little Bird carries Vernon’s signature sounds throughout— deeply moving passages give away to cinematic, sprawling moments of chambered doom. As dark as this sounds, Little Bird also fills the air with a sense of magic and wonder - there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.