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Review: The Decemberists, We All Raise Our Voices To The Air (Live Songs 04.11-08.11)

The Decemberists
We All Raise Our Voices To The Air (Live Songs 04.11-08.11)
[Capitol 2 CD or 3 LP Set (2012)]

After nearly two decades of toiling as indie folk rockers and critic’s faves, the Pacific Northwest quintet The Decemberists hit mainstream rock stardom with their triumphant 2011 release, The King is Dead. Their latest effort, We All Raise Our Voices to the Air (Live Songs 04.11-08.11), documents some of the high points from the extensive fall tour that the band did in support of that album.

The set provides a sweeping overview of the Decemberists’ repertoire, and demonstrates that the group (rounded out by violinist-vocalist and Nickel Creek alumna Sara Watkins on this tour) has developed into a powerhouse live ensemble fully capable of rocking an arena. The album includes two thirds of the songs from The King is Dead, notably fist pumping versions of “This Is Why We Fight” and a churning version of “Down By the Water.” The set’s centerpiece is a lush, 16 minute exploration of the three segments of “The Crane Wife,” full of shifting moods and instrumental textures. On several songs, notably the cacophonous set closer, “I Was Meant for the Stage,” the band is further augmented by a horn section. With The Decemberists on indefinite hiatus, this set will serve as a tour momento for fans and an introduction/ overview for those exploring the band anew.

—Michael Parrish (San Jose, CA)

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