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MUSICAL MELTING POT FROM GORGEOUS BIRD
Olaf Tyaransen, 27 Mar 2012
Having already released two critically acclaimed albums in 2007’s Spoons and 2009’s New Boots, it says a lot that Wallis Bird has chosen to self-title her third album proper (last year’s The Mistakes Are Intentional was an extremely limited release). Her previous efforts drew comparisons with everyone from Ani Di Franco to Tori Amos, but the now 30-year-old Meath-born musician – a graduate of the Ballyfermot Rock School, incidentally – obviously feels she’s fully found her voice at this stage.
And she has...
Written and recorded in an old Berlin radio station, her Brixton flat and a seaside Ballyconeely cottage, Wallis Bird is sonically steeped in the unique atmospheres of those very different locations. The juxtapositions between city and country, from the constant noise and irregular rhythms of those human ant farms to the mysterious silences of the Connemara coast, result in a musical melting-pot, consistent only in its impressive contrariness and eclecticism.
It opens with the wonderfully titled ‘Dress My Skin And Become What I’m Supposed To’ – a gently picked guitar and a world-weary sounding Bird singing, “You don’t know shit... and is it better not to know it?” If existential angst is a pounding headache, this song is two Paracetemol and a glass of water. And it works, wonderfully.
The world-weariness continues on the funky ‘I Am So Tired Of That Line’: “I love you and you love me/I am so tired of that line/You hunt food and I make the babies/I am so tired of that line.” It’s about as cynical a relationship song as they come, and the near-robotic delivery of some of the lines instantly grabs the listener’s attention.
First cut ‘Encore’ is a well-crafted pop rock number worthy of KT Tunstall, and has chart potential written all over it. Its repeated refrain of, “Come back, oh come back” is one of those lines that stick in your head: almost annoyingly hummable, it could well be a hit.
While she’s occasionally touted as the Irish Tori Amos, the comparison is pointless: Wallis Bird is a ‘damaged’ artist only in the sense that she famously lost her fingers in a lawnmower accident when she was a toddler. Luckily, four of the five were successfully re-attached, resulting in a truly unique left-handed playing style. Emotionally, for the most part, she comes across more as sassy rock chick than fragile ethereal soul. Having said that, the folk ballad ‘In Dictum’ is as heartbreaking as they come, and the gorgeous ‘Feathered Pocket’ also works like a dream.