FIVE FAVOURITES: Wallis Bird

Having just released her sixth album Woman via Mount Silver Records/Caroline International, modern folk singer Wallis Bird seems to be in a good place. The Irish songwriter uses her music to speak out against injustice, writing in a confessional style and blurring the lines between the genres of modern folk, roots and soul.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Wallis to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced her song writing techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to watch her video for ‘As The River Flows’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Ani DiFranco – Living in Clip
Changed my life. I was 11, was really growing into my skin on the guitar and my lyrics, I was finding out who I was and Ani burst down my doors. She was a queer feminist in defiance of bureaucracy and sexism and it was so fresh and out of this world to me, I found my back straighten and my eyes clear. It was a turning point. They way she pounded the guitar as if it was a weapon, the depth of chord structure, the prolific output, the badass necessity for creativity – no one like her then nor now.

2. Björk – Vespertine
Björk married Avantgarde with pop and classical in this ethereal, emotional warm embrace of a record. It’s an absolute timeless classic where electronic and traditional instrumentation move horizontally across space and time, and she dances the linear by diving deep into langerous pregnant pauses, long sensual outros of choirs with purist choral, Icelandic landscape escapism… I visualise deeply when I put this record on. Lyrically she discovers a new side to her sex, which she describes it in a detailed, curious, positive and private way – celebrating vulnerability, dreams, intimacy, secrecy and this fragile flesh we’re all in.

3. There Magic Lantern – A World in a Grain of sand
I’ve listened to this record more than any other record I think. Possibly over 200 times. The emotive dynamic, the positive message tinged with some kind of despair. The musicianship, the instrumentation. It moves from English folk to exotic afrobeat to modern NY jazz. It sounds open, wide and luxuriously recorded, giving so much breathing space that the listener feels freed and cosy and listened to. I adore the clever drum timing, the breathy wind instruments and Jamie Doe’s unique vocal style and gently powerful lyricism. This album is a friend of mine.

4. Sam Vance Law – Homotopia
Sam is a friend of mine, but before I knew him I was a fan of his music. We played in the band together and I basically stole him so that I could spend time with the person who wrote what I consider an iconic modern pop record. He tells tales, long and short about narcism, sexual adventures and misadventures, coming out, social suicide, staying in the closet, faking a happy marriage, all wrapped in orchestral instrumentation, sometimes punk, sometimes indie pop, ambling bridges, satirical and snide lyrics, true love, true confusion in youth, pure dreams, mature and clever and unforgettable. Vidal Gore meets The Cure. An album like no other.

5. The Prodigy – Music For a Jilted Generation
My first foray into how beautiful and merciful getting fucked up and dancing your pain away can be. It is wild, concentrated progressive passionate hard and heavy and fucking fantastic dance music. My sister played loads of these tracks at her wedding and all the siblings just broke the dance floor open! it was a real source of relief for us as a family. If we were pent up, if we needed to wind down, this album always did the job for us, when it was playing you left each other alone and everything was all ok afterwards!

Thanks to Wallis for sharing her favourites with us. Follow her on Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: Jens Oellermann

ALBUM: Lisa Hannigan & s t a r g a z e – ‘Live In Dublin’

Irish singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan is set to release her new live album recorded at Dublin’s National Concert Hall with contemporary-classical orchestra s t a r g a z e, founded by conductor André de Ridder. This collaboration sees Lisa’s folk/pop songs played with new orchestral ensemble arrangements and has taken her to the stages of London’s Barbican and Dublin’s National Concert Hall. Live in Dublin serves as a treat for old and new fans of Hannigan, capturing her mesmerising shows across a discography-spanning 14- tracks, including new track ‘Bookmark’.

Love is a key theme on the album, as is nature. The songs lend themselves perfectly to an orchestral setting, bringing out the emotional undertones at the heart of the tracks. The bird-like flutes of ‘Ora’ and the stirring violins which create an atmosphere of sad beauty on ‘Prayer for the Dying’ are particularly beautiful. There’s a lovely change in pace on tracks like ‘Anahorish’ which is sung acapella; ‘Nowhere to Go’ which showcases Hannigan’s slow, plaintive voice as comforting and emotional, before the urgency of following track ‘Lo’, which breaks through with its persistent heartbeat-like rhythms.

Other highlights are the haunting atmospherics on ‘We the Drowned’, which will move you to tears, before the fairytale chimes of ‘Lille’ enchant with their ethereal undertones. Overall, the orchestra swell out the songs, stirring the emotions, adding to the soundscape created by Hannigan’s poetic lyrics. The song is the conductor, her voice is the key instrument. The album closes with ‘Fall’, where the orchestra quiets down and we are sung out with just Hannigans’s vocal harmonies, and guitar.

If you are new to Lisa Hannigan’s songs, this is a wonderful album to discover her gems. Now you will hear them transformed, bringing their inherent dramas and colours to the fore, amidst a backdrop of sublime keys, affecting strings and perfect percussion.

Live In Dublin by Lisa Hannigan & s t a r g a z e is due for release May 31st on digital platforms, vinyl and CD via Play It Again Sam.

Photo Credit: Gerry Sugrue

Fi Ni Aicead
@gotnomoniker

LISTEN: Lisa Hannigan & s t a r g a z e Orchestra – ‘Bookmark’

Cinematic sounds and affecting vocals combine on Irish songwriter Lisa Hannigan‘s latest single ‘Bookmark’. It’s a beautiful collaboration with composer André de Ridder and his s t a r g a z e neo-classical orchestra, recorded when they accompanied Hannigan onstage at Dublin’s National Concert Hall. The live album will be released on 31st May via Play It Again Sam, titled Live In Dublin.

The new record spans Hannigan’s discography, including her critically acclaimed 2016 third album At Swim. It paints a beautiful musical portrait of her 17 year career so far, which has included award nominations from the Mercury Prize to Ireland’s Choice Music Prize and Meteor Music Awards.

Speaking about ‘Bookmark’, Hannigan explains: “’Bookmark’ was one of those lost songs that I wrote for At Swim that didn’t seem to fit with the rest of that record. I also never could figure out how to orchestrate it beyond my guitar part and it felt a bit stuck. Andre wrote an arrangement for it during the PEOPLE festival in Berlin, and overnight it came to life.”

Listen to ‘Bookmark’ below and pre-order your copy of Lisa Hannigan’s Live In Dublin here.

Photo Credit: Gerry Sugrue

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut