The Pet Parade marks a milestone for Johnson, who celebrates 20 years of Fruit Bats in 2021. In some ways still a cult band, in other ways a time-tested act, Fruit Bats has consistently earned enough small victories to carve out a career in a notoriously fickle scene.
While many of the songs on The Pet Parade were actually written before the pandemic, it’s impossible to disassociate the record from the times. As an example, producer Josh Kaufman (The Hold Steady, Bob Weir, The National, and Bonny Light Horseman, in which he plays with Johnson and Anaïs Mitchell) was brought in for his deep emotional touch and bandleading abilities. However, Johnson, Kaufman, and the other musicians on The Pet Parade—drummers Joe Russo and Matt Barrick (The Walkmen, Fleet Foxes, Muzz), singer-songwriter Johanna Samuels, pianist Thomas Bartlett (Nico Muhly, Sufjan Stevens), and fiddler Jim Becker (Califone, Iron & Wine)—were forced to self-record their parts in bedrooms and home studios across America.
released March 5, 2021
Produced by Josh Kaufman
Engineered by Josh Kaufman and Eric D. Johnson
with additional engineering by Matt Barrick, Joe Russo, and Brian Kantor
Mixed and mastered by D. James Goodwin
All songs written by Eric D. Johnson (Furry Good Horns/BMI)
except “Discovering” by Eric D. Johnson and Josh Kaufman (Clarabelle Songs/ASCAP)
Front cover photo by Linda Beedy
Back cover photo by Annie Beedy
Layout and art direction by Daniel Murphy
supported by 92 fans who also own “The Pet Parade”
This reminds me of the Original Harmony Ridge Creekdippers, which is where I hope it might lead some yet to experience the free-spirited authenticity of those refugees from the big smoke.
Big Thief sound more contemporary than the loose country-folk of the Creekdippers, but IMO it's Big Thief's countrified tunes that give this album it's cohesion. I hope they do travel further along this road and record America's next great album. They have the talent. tideracer