wed 03/03/2021

CD: Wallis Bird - Wallis Bird | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Wallis Bird - Wallis Bird

CD: Wallis Bird - Wallis Bird

Innovative Irish singer avoids pigeonholes on her third album

Wallis Bird: unafraid to prune the best bits from across the genres

Do you remember a couple of summers ago, when it seemed like you couldn’t turn on the radio without catching a clip of yet another quirky young female songwriter with a clever hook and a regional accent? The artwork to Wallis Bird’s new album reminded me of one of those singers, from the messy pigtails and dreamy expression to the labret piercing. So far, so pigeonholed... until I pressed play and discovered an artist who could be anything but. 

Do you remember a couple of summers ago, when it seemed like you couldn’t turn on the radio without catching a clip of yet another quirky young female songwriter with a clever hook and a regional accent? The artwork to Wallis Bird’s new album reminded me of one of those singers, from the messy pigtails and dreamy expression to the labret piercing. So far, so pigeonholed... until I pressed play and discovered an artist who could be anything but. 

It’s not uncommon to see the eponymous release early in an artist’s career, the self-title a bold manifesto; but that the Irish singer has chosen to wait until her third full-length album to do so isn’t really so strange. “You don’t know shit,” her arresting alto opens on the dreamy "Dress My Skin and Become What I’m Supposed To", clipping the final consonant just enough to lend the song’s slightly cynical message an air of menace. 

And then it all gets wild. Although playing her parts broadly on acoustic guitar, there’s nothing delicate about the way Bird’s voice rips into relationship clichés on "I Am So Tired of That Line". Lead single "Encore" rattles and screams over semi-electronic loops with a ridiculously hummable refrain while the wildness on display in "Take Me Home" is more of the earth as Bird whispers and moans of a world gone mad. "Heartbeating City" combines a tribal beat with whistles and carefree xylophone; a lilting, uplifting number which, backed with the full-on hoarse scream of "Who’s Listening Now" perfectly displays a singer unafraid to prune the best bits from across the genres.

But as incredible as those performances are, it’s when stripped of the drama that Bird is at her most affecting. In "Dictum", at the album’s mid-point, is part-folk song part-full throated ballad, while the fragility of "Feathered Pocket" sounds as if it belongs on another album altogether. The album closes with "Polarised", eight minutes of performance poetry and sonic experimentation. 

So that’s Wallis Bird: pop star, balladeer, world music poet. Pigeonhole at your peril.

Watch "Encore" by Wallis Bird

It’s when stripped of the drama that Bird is at her most affecting

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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