It’s rare to come across artists who truly harness a distinct sound of their own. And it’s even more impressive when they achieve this with minimalist means. Enter Fellow Pynins, who is one such group that checks these boxes.
The Oregon folk and roots duo, made up of Ian George and Dani Aubert, has officially dropped the second single from their anticipated upcoming album, Lady Mondegreen, set to drop May 20th.
The new single, “She’s Like the Swallow,” follows the album’s lead single, “Pretty Polly,” and features an accompanying and equally haunting music video.
The sudden droning horn that begins the track sets the somber tone, while Aubert’s voice soon swoops in, immediately entrancing the listener.
The track has a very out-in-nature feel to it. It is hypnotic and tranquil, and I envision Buddhist worship practices among a sprawling Thai temple. Or perhaps a dedicated yoga group in the depths of a Redwood forest.
There’s very much an art-folk feel, and it exudes a certain spirituality. This droning wave carries on throughout, with no changes, sparse percussion, and no guitar. It feels more like a hymn than your average folk song.
The accompanying video haunts and allures as well, with its visuals perfectly in sync with the song, melting from one sequence to another. It mesmerizes and hypnotizes doubly as a song-visual combo. It’s very much an experience, and you feel as though you’ve stepped outside of your body for just a moment with its meditative qualities.
Soon, George’s face slowly appears and joins Aubert’s on screen, the two singing to each other in haunting harmony. There’s a very ghostly presence to the song, and equally if not more in the video. It tingles the senses and strikes a chord that’s rarely struck, and sounds like something that could be heard through the halls of centuries-old Cathedrals.
With George playing guitar, mandolin, and piano, and Aubert bringing her banjo and bouzouki skills, the two recorded their new album with help from musicians like trumpeter Tree Palmedo, trombonist John Cushing and bassist Ted Olson. The result is firmly based on stringed instruments in the mode of traditional folk, with drones and colors provided by the horns, violins and drums. The two recorded Lady Mondegreen at their house, which sits off the grid in the mountains of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in southwest Oregon.
In 2017, the two were traveling through Vermont on a snowy night. They stopped in Montpelier, where they met a sculptor and folk-song enthusiast who told them a story: in 1954 the writer Sylvia Wright coined the term “mondegreen,” which now means a creative mishearing of a line in a song or a poem. When she was a girl, Wright listened to her mother read the lyrics of the Scottish song “The Bonny Earl of Murray.” In the song, the line “They have slain the Earl of Murray and laid him on the green” became – in Wright’s delightful interpretation – “They have slain the Earl of Murray and Lady Mondegreen.” That process, which gives the album its title, is one of many that are at the center of the accomplishment of Lady Mondegreen.
“She’s Like the Swallow” acts as a second dose of intrigue for what’s to come on the new album. Fellow Pynins have definitely staked their claim as one of today’s most intriguing and authentic traditional folk acts.
They will be performing an Official Artist Showcase at Folk Alliance International on May 20th, which is the release date for the album.