When I was in junior high I remember flipping through my older sister’s high school yearbooks (especially at the seniors), every town’s stereotypical compendium of big hair and meaty mama’s boys. But I can still vividly remember the one artsy kid; his facial hair half-stubble, half-wisp, limp shoulder length hair, the black-and-white photograph rendered with ultra-high contrast, his blurb an exquisite mash-up of Tolkien and Syd Barrett. I do believe Birch Book’s John Michael B’eirth (who also goes by B’ee) could be that kid all grown up, and it makes me so happy. I don’t have any explanations for the sudden explosion in popularity of fantasy/Ren Fair-laced rural folk, but it’s fascinating nonetheless. Fortune & Folly is reportedly less medieval than his other project, In Gowan Ring, but it still floats tunes like “Zephyr Through Willows” and “New Song” down a river of mead like so many paper lanterns. And all kidding aside, B’eirth’s tunes are lovely, worthy cohabitants of the psych-folk world pioneered by Incredible String Band et al. “The Wandering Boy” talks about a boy with a “lute upon his back / a feather in his cap,” an image that is a whole lot sillier than it’s intended to be—but endearing nonetheless. Creative anachronism is escapism built for this kind of soundtrack.
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