Recorded over four months in 2011, when the band was riding high on the tails of their Number One smash The King Is Dead, Voices features performances from legendary venues like Stubb’s BBQ in Austin and the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Truly, the Decemberists never sound better than when the quintet stands before a pulsing crowd of thousands. (Don’t worry—the sometimes manic audiences take a backseat here in favor of pristine, studio-quality sound that preserves the warmth of a live show.)
Known for impeccable set lists, Voices culls the band’s best, including the 2007 suite “The Crane Wife 1, 2, and 3.” Lead singer Colin Meloy’s nasal shrill floats to the top of old favorites like the jolly “Billy Liar,” while Nickel Creek’s Sara Watkins guests on vocals, fiddle and guitar; one can almost feel the sultry glances that she and Meloy trade onstage during “Down by the Water.” The band’s crowd-pleasing closer “The Mariner’s Revenge Song” underscores the spontaneity of the Decemberists live, even if you have to picture the band’s silly stage antics inside your head.
If you’re feeling blue at the prospect of a Decemberists-less summer, since the band called a hiatus after their last lengthy outing, never fear! Encapsulated here is everything you need for your own at-home folk-tinged rock extravaganza.
– Allison Johnelle Boron