Combining contemporary freak-folk with a rococo songwriting sensibility, Northern California’s Odd Bird create chiming, lovingly detailed and melodically inventive songs that manage to sound simultaneously sun-dappled and troubled. Ashley Allred sings in a breathy, child-like voice about everything from owls, blazing suns, fortune-tellers, penguins and puppets to suicide, war and a failing ecology. The eclectic lyrical bric-a-brac is perfectly paired to a country thrift-shop folk aesthetic featuring Allred’s ringing autoharp, as well as mandolins, ukeleles, flutes and banjos beside and atop more traditional rock trappings. From its bird’s nest cover and “Bedlam”‘s opening plea for rethinking a world no one wants to admit has run short of imagination, through the small fairy tales of “Rheum” and “Old Owl’s Tale” to the closing plea of “In a Dream”, ‘Smith’ becomes a kind of haunted dream played out in an abandoned children’s book shop. Fans of contemporaries like Neutral Milk Hotel as well as of idiosyncratic singer-songwriters such as Nick Drake, Elliott Smith and Kate Bush will find many a treasure rummaging through the strange world of Odd Bird.