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The Tweet Hereafter
Peter Murphy, 22 Jul 2009
What happens when the thing you’ve been doing your whole life, the thing that comes most naturally, suddenly has a price put on it and is subjected to scrutiny by folk with a vested business interest and a hundred opinions, who tell you you’re not so hot after all?
Quite a knock to the self-esteem, one imagines. Such a thing might make a soul think twice about their purpose on the earth. Might drive a person to second-guess a process that had hitherto seemed easy and unselfconscious. Might drive an artist towards dissecting the golden goose. Next stop – horror of horrors – the block.
Such was the fate of Enniscorthy-born songwriter Wallis Bird, who, following the release of her debut album Spoons, parted company with Island Records and had to face up to some unpalatably fishwifey home truths. It’s a credit to her craft and graft that the listener divines no such impression from her new record New Boots, the first fruit of a domestic deal with Rubyworks and an international one with Columbia, a supremely confident and sometimes moving collection of songs that represent the full spectrum of the Bird’s artistic, um, plumage.
“I think I was still with Island when I was writing about three of the songs,” she recalls, “and I just kept getting told my songs were not good enough, don’t-bore-us-get-to-the-chorus, this kind of thing.”
One imagines such an experience is akin to having a physician open you up, examine your reproductive faculties and grimace in disapproval.
“It was like being told you’ve got a disability or something,” Bird admits. “And I got an awful knock, I felt I couldn’t do what I always satisfied myself doing, and I got this writer’s block, the typical thing. Everything I was doing was being ripped apart, how I looked, how I talked, my onstage show, everything that I truly believed in was just... shit, basically.”
Sounds like your classic dysfunctional relationship. Someone says they’ve fallen hopelessly in love with you and a couple of months later they’re picking apart the very attributes they once claimed to adore.