There are a lot of reasons I shouldn’t like Breathe Owl Breathe. They sound a bit like Jack Johnson meets Feist in a hookah lounge. They have all the hallmarks of easy-goin’ adult contemporary indie-folk. But there are things going on beneath the surface that set Breathe Owl Breathe apart from the “tailor-made-for-Starbucks” scene.
The Michigan-based trio is largely acoustic. There are cellos, shimmering tambourines, playful keyboards and tuneful banjos. Vocalist Micah Middaugh’s warm wool blanket of a voice is juxtaposed against the chirping tones of songbird Andréa Moreno-Beals, creating impressionistic images via word fragments and gentle sounds.
You know when you’re watching that indie film — the one with the impossibly pretty girl-next-door actress and the sure-wish-I-was-that-charming lead? You think to yourself, They’re too young; their love will fail. You hope that just for once this will be the love story that comes true. And you surrender yourself. This is Breathe Owl Breathe.
When Middaugh sings “I was afraid of losing you” on “Across the Loch,” you believe every word and remember, bittersweetly, all the times you’ve lost something. When he sings “I’ll never tell where the rope swing is” on “Swimming,” you can’t help but remember those days of freedom and first kisses. This is what Breathe Owl Breathe is for me, and why I like them. Maybe they’ll mean something else to you. But they will mean something.
Breathe Owl Breathe plays with Purple Sparrows and Dan Jones (solo acoustic) 8:30 pm Saturday, Feb. 4, at Cozmic Pizza; $8 adv., $10 day of.