Singer-songwriter Wallis Bird is back with Woman, her first album release since 2016’s Home. Occasionally politically charged, often emotionally raw, and always beautifully crafted, it’s signature Bird, powered by a synthesis of folk, soul, and a little bit of electro-pop.
Woman touches on a variety of subjects, from the personal to the newsworthy. Bookended by “As The River Flows”, a track dedicated to Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi, the three year old photographed dead on a Turkish beach in 2015, and “Repeal”, a touching reflection last year’s abortion referendum in Ireland, Bird wears her heart and her politics firmly and proudly on her sleeve. Of the album she says:
“I want more empathy in the world around me […] so I’ve started by writing it into my life. I want to fill rooms with these words. I want to hear these sentiments uttered out loud, and for people to get used to hearing themselves say them. Ultimately, I want these words written into their lives.”
The final product, clocking in at just 37 minutes long, is absolutely gorgeous. Bird wraps often difficult social commentary in a deceptively appealing series of sounds, all complimented by a wonderful voice that carries a dazzling array of genres on its way through Woman.
Take “Salve”, a wonderful Prince inspired funk/soul track exploring the perils of social media, and how it leads directly into “Brutal Honesty”, a song rooted much more in what one might expect from traditional folk music and with a much more personal story to tell. It’s a fine example of how Bird shifts from genre to genre almost flawlessly, showcasing her voice’s many strengths as she does.
Another standout is the glorious “That’s What Life Is For”. A little bit folk, a little punk, and a lot of fun, it’s an uplifting manifesto, one that feels born to be belted out with old friends in a small local pub. I’m getting flashbacks to Edinburgh’s Royal Oak just thinking about it!
One does wonder if the songs are a little too different to sit comfortably together during a single listening session, but Woman remains a strong, honest, and energetic collection. It might be the sixth album from the Irish born, Berlin based artist, but Woman is proof that the Bird spark is still there, glowing as fiercely as ever.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Wallis Bird’s Woman is released on September 27th. European audiences can catch Bird on her New Moon tour from early next month. For more information, check out her website, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!