Mark Erelli Draws Out a Lonesome Feeling in “Birches”


Mark Erelli has established himself as a notable New England songwriter through an admirable catalog that stretches back to his 1999 self-titled debut. This time out, however, he’s relying on the rich material of fellow folk singer Bill Morrissey for a brand new album, Milltowns.

The collection began almost by accident when Erelli was honing his home recording skills, then noticed some of Morrissey’s lyrics on a music stand nearby. He started singing the familiar song, realized how much fun he was having, then captured 11 more of Morrissey’s compositions, plus one of his own. “Birches” is the first video from the heartfelt project.

“The songs of Bill Morrissey are constructed with such narrative precision that they present an interesting challenge to a filmmaker,” Erelli says. “There is plenty of detail to guide a simple visualization of the story, but the ballad has such vivid mental imagery that you can practically ‘see’ the song in your head after a single listen.”

The video for “Birches” is a fine illustration of Morrissey’s skillful writing as well as Erelli’s gift for pulling listeners into a narrative. And while the video appears to be simplistic, the underlying emotions cannot be missed.

“In making a video for ‘Birches,’ I wanted to work with someone who would be energized by the challenge of hewing to the storyline yet somehow stylizing the imagery in the song, playing around with the pictures of the protagonists listeners might have in their heads,” he continues.

Shutter & String’s Liam Hurley came to mind as the perfect fit for this project, as he managed a similar feat with his video for Josh Ritter‘s ‘The Curse.’ By way of example, he sent me a couple of examples of old film shorts using shadow puppetry, and I was instantly sold on the idea, especially because of the role that light and shadow plays in the Bill Morrissey song.”

With autumn officially upon us, it’s the right time to hear songs about keeping the home fires burning, literally and romantically. Enjoy the CMT Edge premiere of Mark Erelli’s “Birches.”