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Bowerbirds: Tiny Desk Concert

Bowerbirds' distinctively spare, handcrafted songs creak and swell like wooden floorboards in an old house. With singer-songwriter Phil Moore's acoustic guitar and Beth Tacular's accordion as its foundation — plus multi-instrumentalist Mark Paulson on violin and bass drum, and Brad Cook on acoustic bass — the group's stellar first album Hymns for a Dark Horse was an emotional ode to the pastoral. It was also one of my favorite records of 2007.

Bowerbirds' latest, Upper Air, picks up where its predecessor left off. But the band's music has become grander in scope: Not only does Upper Air introduce new instruments to the palette — decrepit bar-room pianos, hammered dulcimers, church organs and ornately composed string arrangements — but it also tackles bigger questions about finding humanity's place in nature and in the world.

In this captivating Tiny Desk Concert — performed on July 7, the same day Upper Air was officially released — the band seems to feel at home with the barest essentials, revealing lived-in melodies and inviting vocal harmonies that resonated throughout the NPR Music offices.

To watch last week's Tiny Desk Concert with K'naan, click here.

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