You won’t have heard too much about Wallis Bird. Certainly, for at artist now on their second major label deal in as many albums, the quietly spoken Meath born and Wexford raised singer songwriter has gone somewhat under the radar in her native country.
It won’t always be the case. Bird has followed up the promise shown on 2007’s Spoons with a record that – as the title suggests – sees her try on some new musical hats and boots to match. Often these see her stroll around Pop’s melodically strong back-roads while meandering down alleys to channel such heroes as Jeff Buckley, Janis Joplin and the lively Ani DiFranco. Lead single -To My Bones’ has radio stamped all over it – a celebratory song of life and living all wrapped in a distinctively Irish feel.
There’s anger here too. The album’s first track -Can Opener’ may kick off with a clanger of a lyrical couplet (try ‘what is wrong with this scene/ Do you know what I mean’ on for size) but there’s no curbing the raw rage in her fine vocal, which brings to mind Jeff Buckley’s -Grace’.
Bird of course still has much love for the acoustic guitar and although at times she remain something of a troubadour (see the twee -Made of Sugar’), there’s a greater sense of fierceness and fire in her approach than most and, thankfully, little or no sign of glum introspection. For the most part the arrangements are kept light and agile to match the joyful optimism apparent throughout.
Sprightly, fun and, above all cheery, the lyrical style matches that of the music and New Boots is as much about detailing life changes as it is about flirting between different musical styles.
Well travelled having spent extended periods in Germany and now calling London’s Brixton district home, Bird documents her life meanders through the fine -Travelling Bird’, the fun and spirited -LaLa Land’ and the fog chorus of -Berlin’. More spiritual yearning comes in the form of -An Idea About Mary’, a hummable tune that – like most of the album – is lifted by Bird’s impassioned vocal. Best of all perhaps though is the vivacious -Yer Daddy’, which was recorded live in Germany and demonstrates just how much fun Bird can be in a live setting.
Optimism, fright, new beginnings and joyfulness characterise much of New Boots, and your left with the real feeling that Bird means each song intently. It may not mean much but, crucially for a troubadour of her ilk, you can at least believe in her.
Stream the album on Soundcloud.