By Robert Firpo-Cappiello
Like many Westchester dads, Irvington’s Miyuki Furtado traded Brooklyn for a quieter life in the ‘burbs right around the time he became a father. Unlike most, however, Furtado also traded a life of round-the-world rock-n-roll touring for afternoons strumming an acoustic guitar while his daughter napped.
Those quiet moments of guitar playing would lead Furtado to launch a new musical identity, the folk/psych band Divining Rod, which will release its new album, “Return to Crystal Cove,” in early 2018. As a preview of the highly anticipated album, the band has released a double A-side single, “Hemlock Blues / Love Come Tumbling,” via Kilipaki Records (visit diviningrodband.com for downloads).
An Irvington resident since 2008, Furtado made the unusual transition from singing, writing, and playing bass for the Brooklyn-based post-punk band The Rogers Sisters to reimagining his musical language as a solo acoustic singer/songwriter as he raised his child, made repairs to his new home, and ventured into the rivertowns’ musical scene at farmers’ markets, churches, living rooms, and art galleries. “Working around my daughter’s schedule made me rethink the way I write music,” Furtado recalls. “It definitely makes you more focused and disciplined. While writing, I was listening to music by slack key masters like Gabby and Cyril Pahinui as well as British folk guitarists, Bert Jansch and Richard Thompson. I also have a deep love of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, Manassas, and the Byrds as well as the ‘outlaw country’ music of Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Joe Ely. After I had enough songs, I wanted to play them out but I felt out of touch with my old music scene in the city. So when I moved to Irvington, I resolved to play everywhere and as often as I could. It was though I was starting a new life. It was a humbling, yet freeing experience.”
“Return to Crystal Cove” is a deeply personal project for Furtado, drawing on diverse musical and personal influences ranging from his early childhood in Kauai, Hawaii, to the unexpected, shattering experience of losing his father, Gilbert Furtado, to cancer in 2016. “I flew out west to care for my dad,” says Furtado. “Toward the end, we talked for hours through the night. Then when he couldn’t talk, I sat with him in silence realizing that when we look back on life, the grand moments are not necessarily the most impactful. It’s the little moments, which may seem fleeting or unimportant, that are the ones that we remember. Like how the sun felt on our faces the day we went swimming together, or the comforting scent of your pillow at home. I wanted to write songs about those little moments. The ones that remind us that we’re alive.”
“I returned home eventually after my father passed and started work on the record. It really is the one that I felt I had to make,” Furtado says. His new sense of creative energy and urgency led him to return to the recording studio with a new collaborator. Patrick Harmon, a guitarist and vocalist of the Brooklyn psych-pop band A Party Faithful, creates a sonically captivating landscape of textured guitar that is the perfect counterpoint to Furtado’s country/folk/tropicalia-inflected work on guitar, bass, and drums. (If you’ve ever wondered what a collaboration between the late-’60s British folk-rock band Fairport Convention and the groundbreaking Irish group My Bloody Valentine might sound like, Divining Rod’s recent work may be the closest you’ll ever get.) The pair worked with Grammy-nominated producer/mixer/engineer Brian Forbes at a fast, creative pace, recording the dozen new songs in a matter of days.
One of Furtado’s favorite songs on “Return To Crystal Cove” is “The Silver Ship,” inspired by his life as a father. “It’s about how raising a child, though an incredible experience, can sometimes make you feel very inept and desperate and alone. Then you go from feeling like you’re about to break to feeling deliriously happy. It’s disorienting. But if you can let go of your fear and insecurities, you can move toward feeling more at ease. It’s challenging for sure, but I wouldn’t change it for all the tours in the world.”
Moving forward is what Furtado and Divining Rod are all about these days, with recent shows at New York City hotspots such as Mercury Lounge, Lovecraft Bar NYC, and HiFi, and at Baltimore’s Reverb, and a new music video for “Love Come Tumbling” coming soon. If you follow Divining Rod on social media, you can get the scoop on upcoming gigs in rivertowns venues, where you can hear this unique band’s groundbreaking sonic – and emotional –landscapes in person.