When it comes to family music, one of the most unique artists in the genre comes to us from Portland. Red Yarn has been spinning his sonic tale for a few years now, blending his vibrant brand of folk-infused Americana with a live show that features puppetry and storytelling. Now, with the release of his latest album, Born in the Deep Woods, Red Yarn completes his Deep Woods Trilogy, “an epic song cycle exploring the roots and branches of American folk music.” Today, I’m happy to share the new video for “Mockingbird,” a beautiful clip that includes Red Yarn rocking out with his 3-year-old son. I dig it, and think you will too. Check it out!
About Red Yarn: Seven years ago, Texas-born artist and educator Andy Furgeson began a deep exploration of American folk music, adapting dozens of songs and posting rough recordings under the name Red Yarn. He dreamed up a forest called the Deep Woods to contain the strange animal tales he found. Red Yarn created a cast of “critter” puppets to bring the characters to life. His homespun aesthetic caught on in Portland, where he built a successful career performing these songs and stories for thousands of families. Three award-winning albums and many music videos later, Red Yarn culminates his Deep Woods project with Born in the Deep Woods, his boldest musical statement yet.
Recorded at Portland’s Type Foundry Studio with celebrated producer Adam Selzer, Born in the Deep Woods explores the genres that grew out of American folk music. From bluegrass to heartland rock, the album traces the evolution of our national musical vernacular. Acoustic instruments meld with big drums, distorted guitars, and electronic flourishes. The twelve tracks are split evenly between originals and traditionals. The title track is a Springsteen-esque rocker that sums up Furgeson’s folkloric mission, while “Old Mother Goose” applies the Rolling Stones’ swagger to nursery rhymes. Traditionals like “Birdies’ Ball” and “Mr. Gamble” are rendered almost unrecognizable by genre-hopping arrangements.
At the heart of the album are Furgeson’s harmonies with his wife Jessie Eller-Isaacs. Recorded while Eller-Isaacs was expecting their second child, songs like “Little Baby Born Today” and “Old Black Dog” channel the joys and fears of bringing new life into the world. An underlying narrative about birth and rebirth is depicted in illustrator Ryan Bruce’s and photographer Aaron Hewitt’s lush album artwork. Stark photos of the human world blend with colorful illustrations of the enchanted woods. The liner notes look and read like the old folksong books that inspired the project.
While Furgeson built his career on his kind-hearted performances for children, he thinks that Born in the Deep Woods will speak to parents as well. “I’m always trying to strike a balance between light and dark, silly and serious, kid- and parent-friendly. The old animal folksongs are a perfect guide. Beneath their playful surface is an honest reckoning with mortality. I hope my new music strikes that balance, with easy entry points for kids as well as deeper messages about parenthood and inspiration.” After his seven-year journey into the Deep Woods, Red Yarn’s music can’t help but feel like it was born there.