ESTEVAN — North Portal's Lindsay Arnold and Mike Davis – the folk and American duo known as Last Birds – are releasing a new single on Aug. 25.
The piece is the first single from their upcoming, self-produced album. Give It To Me highlights Arnold and Davis' intimate two voices, two guitars approach. The song portrays a patient lover waiting for their desires to be returned. The duo has watched similar scenarios play out many times in their small town where one's personal life becomes everyone's business.
"This song was written in the living room, and we were both in the same room at the same time. Sometimes that doesn't happen. Sometimes Mike will come up with an idea on his own, or I will work on something by myself. But this happened very organically," said Arnold in the interview with the Mercury and SaskToday.
"I just started strumming a little sort of baseline on my guitar. And Mike joined in, and I would say we had this song written within an hour; it came together very quickly. And it's always kind of magical when that happens."
The song was born in early 2022, and the musicians let it sit for a while before releasing it.
"We knew that we really felt strongly about the song. And then when we recorded the music for the album, we both felt that we wanted this one to be the first single because it's just the two of us playing. It's just two guitars, two voices. And we wanted to set it up, so people know what to expect when they get the album because it's mostly the same way – just the two of us playing," Arnold explained.
Last Birds will be releasing an official music video for the single on the same day. The video features Arnold's skills as a visual artist by exploring the sensuous quality of paint and catering to society's fascination with the creative process.
The video will be released on Last Bird's website, social media and YouTube channel. And the single will be available through all major streaming platforms.
Give It To Me is the lead track on Last Birds' upcoming full-length album, Endless Turn of Day Into Night. Last Birds will release two more singles before the debut of the new album, which is scheduled for release on Oct. 20.
Using their Prairie hometown as a backdrop, Davis and Arnold have woven together rural legends and current-day experiences to form a modern Prairie gothic. The duo veers away from overly romanticized views of small-town life to peer into the dark corners of the local bar, peek into the windows of an abandoned house down the street and pine for something or someone beyond the veil.
"This has been over two years in the making," Arnold said. "We've been writing songs. And we were fortunate to get a Sask. Arts grant to help us write the songs for the album, and then we also received a Creative Saskatchewan grant to help with the recording. It's just been a really long but good project."
She also noted that a full-length album was the perfect format for the songs they've created over the past couple of years.
"We wanted to do a full-length album because we had so many songs that were related to each other. All of these songs are based on our experiences of growing up or living in a small town. We felt that if it was only a handful of songs, we wouldn't be able to capture as much of the story of where and how we live as we wanted to. That's why we wanted to go with a full-length project. We also really wanted to put it on vinyl, so there will be vinyl available," Arnold said.
The duo was able to record in Estevan at the studio of their friend and former Hook and Nail band member Jeff Michel.
Last Birds formed in November of 2019 and quickly gained momentum. The duo was nominated for multiple awards in 2021 and 2022, including the Saskatchewan Music Awards' Roots/Folk Artist of the Year as well as the Saskatchewan Country Music Association's Group and Alternative Country Album of the Year. Their self-titled debut EP, released in 2021, reached No. 1 on Kansas Public Radio while spending several weeks on the Roots Music Report charts for Top Folk Album and Top Canadian Folk Album.
This summer, they had an opportunity to perform on the main stage at Regina Folk Fest, as well as do a workshop and two sets on Sunday. They will also be at the Artists' Colony at the Moose Mountain Provincial Park on Labour Day long weekend, where they are doing three smaller free concerts at the artists' cabins on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
"It will be very informal," Arnold said. "And we'll be giving a sneak preview of the songs from the album."
Although they have been married for 15 years, Davis and Arnold have been writing and performing together for only five of them. They each bring a lifetime of creative experience to the table.
Arnold has worked as a visual artist and filmmaker for over 20 years. Her stop-motion video Table Dance, featuring over 100 doilies, has been screened at film festivals around the world including Videomedeja in Novi Sad, Serbia. She is also the administrator for the Village of North Portal.
Davis has been working as a professional musician since the age of 16 when he toured the eastern United States with The Continentals. As an adult, he juggled a music career with drywalling. He operated his own construction business for over 10 years. He now uses his skills to make signs for a local business.
Davis is also an avid metal detectorist. He has travelled abroad to hunt for relics. His found treasures include Roman coins and an Anglo-Saxon brooch. One of his favourite finds is a Portal High School class ring he returned to its owner 70 years after it was lost.
Last Birds live in North Portal with their young daughter in a house they built with their own hands.