Published on February 7th, 2023

Big Thief by Alexa Viscius

“That’s my grandma!” the audience yells along when Big Thief does their song “Red Moon” live. How could they not? Featuring Mat Davidson aka Twain on vocals and fiddle, the album version of “Red Moon” is the most boot-stomping track on Brooklyn-based Big Thief’s acclaimed 2022 double LP, “Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You.” It wants to be played in concert, and it’s far from the only country song on this indie-Americana opus.

The whole sprawling 80-minute affair starts off with “Change,” a quaint number that was written by singer Adrianne Lenker and then recorded by James Krivchenia, the drummer and producer, in just a few hours. From there it ranges across live recordings in small rooms and big acoustic set pieces played with expensive gear, going from artsy ’80s (“Little Things”) to folksy formula (“Certainty”) and several places in between.

Love Love Love” is a screeching psychedelic country rock song about — you guessed it. But the sounds of the country don’t come just from Krivchenia’s swing-shuffle drumming or Lenker’s whispery drawl. They are the humors running through the band, every part like a tributary. Lenker, the main songwriter and one of the best of our time, embodies the storytelling power of country music’s greats. Bandmates Krivchenia, Max Oleartchik on bass and Buck Meek on lead guitar create accompaniments as diverse and poetic as the lyrics.

“Dragon … ” landed on numerous 2022 best-of lists, and was dubbed “as intriguingly mysterious and expansive as its name” by “That Record Got Me High,” a podcast hosted by South Florida punk rocker Rob Elba.

The cryptic Simulation Swarm” grew out of intense personal experiences Lenker had, including being hospitalized after too much touring, time spent in a religious cult, and the absence of a biological brother whom she also referenced in a 2017 song, “Mythological Beauty,” and has (still?) never met. And then there’s “Spud Infinity,” in which lines about literal potato dishes are interjected into an otherwise cosmic narrative. It’s reportedly become their set-closer upbeat and enduring, poignant and profound. Just like the band.

Big Thief play 7pm Tuesday, Feb. 21 at Miami Beach Bandshell. ~ Carly Cassano