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Music Review: The Stone Coyotes – A Wild Bird Flying

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The Stone Coyotes are a family affair from Massachusetts who spend most of their time in the state of Texas and its vicinity. They consist of vocalist guitarist/keyboardist Barbara Keith, her husband/drummer Doug Tibbles, and son/bassist/lead guitarist John Tibbles.

Keith’s career extends back to the late 1960s when she was discovered playing the Greenwich Village circuit. She was basically a folk singer in the Joni Mitchell vein but with a little more bite. Her second 1972 self-titled album for the Warner Brothers label is one of the great lost albums of the early 1970s. She met her husband at the time and walked away from the music industry, not becoming really active again until the formation of the Stone Coyotes during the late 1990s. In the interim, in addition to her family, she became a noted songwriter, with her compositions being recorded by the likes of Barbra Streisand, Lowell George, Tanya Tucker, and Delaney & Bonnie.

The Stone Coyotes have now released their 11th studio album titled A Wild Bird Flying. Keith has mostly left her folk heritage behind in favor of a rock sound. Her songwriting skills have remained intact as she can still write catchy melodies with incisive lyrics. What has improved is her guitar work and especially her ability with a slide style.

The album’s leading title track establishes their sound. The Tibbles lay down a bass and percussion foundation, the lead guitar is layered on top, and finally, Keith’s bluesy vocals drive the song along. “Powder Keg” is an energetic rock romp. “Your Fall from Grace” slows the tempo down as the sound gradually builds, plus the subtle and subdued vocals add to the atmosphere.

The Stone Coyotes always keep it interesting. “Sing Me a Hymn” is a mid-tempo rocker with a nice honky tonk piano sound. “Red Letter Day” is a prime example of her developing slide guitar style. “You Got Rolled” brings the album to an upbeat and rocking conclusion.

The Stone Coyotes are a band without pretensions who appear comfortable with their style and sound. A Wild Bird Flying is basic rock and roll at its best.

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