Album Review: Wallis Bird – ‘Wallis Bird’

Posted: 27/03/2012 in Uncategorized

As published on Entertainment.ie on March 12th 2012

The process of Irish artists extensively road-testing new material in its raw form in advance of an album release is becoming increasingly more common. During the past year high profile acts such as Gemma Hayes and Delorentos have embarked on nationwide acoustic tours to serve their new music to their fans in its half-cooked state – allowing them in on the gestation period, gauging reactions, and using them to their advantage in the final stages of production. Wallis Bird upped the ante of this process with the release of The Mistakes Are Intentional last November. Limited to just 1000 online pre-order special edition copies – in handmade packaging stitched by Bird herself – the collection of solo acoustic home recordings offered a warts-and-all glimpse of what to expect from this her third album, the self titled Wallis Bird. Clever girl. The Mistakes Are Intentional served its purpose incredibly well – affording fans familiarity with tunes and lyrics in advance, the element of surprise come release day eliminated with instead an appreciation of the polished final product. And with this album, there really is plenty to appreciate.

‘Encore’ is an emphatic lead single, with thundering percussion akin to that of a stadium rock classic. ‘I Am So Tired Of That Line’ is equally resounding, as Bird addresses her frustrations with the endless drivel of the powers-that-be in relation to the current economic woes of the world – likewise, ‘Who’s Listening Now?’, with the strong statement of “If you keep on pushin’ people then they’re gonna push back”. The dark heart of Wallis Bird is beating hard throughout – the examination of conscience in the verses of ‘But I’m Still Here, I’m Still Here’ is poignantly honest, as is the powerful ‘In Dictum’, a song which Bird has been including in her live sets for some time now – thankfully, the finished recorded version has been worth the wait. ‘Ghosts of Memories’, a song written during isolation in the wilds of Connemara, is without a doubt the album’s standout track – rich refrains with sweeping atmospheric instrumentation, building towards massive choruses. The inclusion of ‘Heartbeating City’ is somewhat baffling – an almost tropical-sounding tune which although distinctively Wallis Bird doesn’t really fit the mood dictated by the rest of the album. ‘Feathered Pocket’ proves an understated highlight, an impossibly sweet love song on which Bird embraces the softer side of her vocal abilities to great effect.

Wallis Bird has always been an enigmatic artist – her well-known persona is that of the quirky happy-go-lucky troubadour, who seems to churn out radio-friendly sprightly folk singalong songs with ease; on the flip-side there’s the lesser-appreciated brilliantly deep songwriter whose ability to convey matters of the heart is astounding. Wallis Bird bucks the trend and casts the latter side into the spotlight – it’s bigger, braver, and even more brutally honest than the Spoons and New Boots that have gone before it. To date it’s the most ambitious and daring material that she’s put her name to – so much so, that she did it twice.

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