Breathe Owl Breathe, Passage of Pegasus

Laura Leebove

By Laura Leebove

Managing Editor
on 10.16.13 in Reviews

The last record from Michigan folk trio Breathe Owl Breathe, 2010′s Magic Central, was a disarming collection of playful but poignant songs about things like dragons and cave dancers and parrots in tropical trees. Its follow-up, Passage of Pegasus, has a bit less magic, instead taking on a more somber tone throughout its 10 tracks. Micah Middaugh is a beautiful storyteller with his singular, lilting baritone, and the songs here are still built on references to nature — carving out canyon beds (“Sandstone), cacti pointing the way (“Hologram”) and the moon as a disco ball (“Silent Movie Reel”) — but this time there’s more exploration of loss and loneliness.

Loss and loneliness executed with a singular brand of cleverness and charm

In “Ferns Move,” over delicate acoustic guitar, strings, and faint glitches, Middaugh sings, “When you’re about to lose everything/ you can pack light/ we can travel light”; in the minimal “Cliff Ledge,” he’s “scraping up my spirit/ just trying to get to you”; and in the deceivingly upbeat “Sandstone,” “the under-current is currently at hand/ and bringing me down.” And the instrumentation is at times a bit weirder and more dissonant than usual: “Hologram” has warped echoes and spacey electronic blips, while “Explorer” runs on a circus-like synth (or is it a melodica?) line over a low bass beat. But even though Passage of Pegasus‘s tone is dark, Breathe Owl Breathe still execute it with a brand of cleverness, quirkiness and charm that will always be hard to match.