Exploring Birdsong – The Thing About Feathers
Released: 29th November 2019
Label: Long Branch Records
Format: CD / DD / DSP
Exploring Birdsong’s new release, The Thing About Feathers, is a concept piece based on the Seamus Heaney poem Bye Child – which also is linked to the tragic, unusual child cruelty case of Kevin Halfpenny. The cover art, with broken backbones becoming broken wings. is by Emily Dickinson called ‘Hope Is The Thing With Feathers.’
A chance opportunity, meeting the Bolton born drummer Matt Harrison of Exploring Birdsong, led me to giving their recently released EP a listen. What a pleasant surprise this was.
A three piece group with keyboards and drummer, note no lead guitar, led by the haunting voice of Lynsey Ward, has introduced me to a highly talented young trio.
The EP begins with the short melodic piano instrumental, Hope. Don’t be misled into thinking without crashing guitar chords, riffs and complex solos that their music is just lilting melody; there is power aplenty when they want to thrash it out…especially at the end of ‘The River’, a song which reflects that our lives are mixed between good and evil experiences and how they can quickly and unexpectedly be connected.
Sinking Feeling follows on from the previous track in a similar vein, in fact they were part and parcel the same piece of music but have developed into two separate songs.
The EP title track is a gorgeous composition with the voice as the only instrument. The harmonious choral effect is stunning to say the least. A song about questioning our faiths and beliefs, The Baptism is a new development of a previously released version since keyboard player Johnny Knight joined the group.
There are melancholic piano and keyboards at the opening of ‘Downpour’ but then as the tempo increases Lynsey’s gorgeous vocals rise and soar wildly and freely. Like most of their music, the intensity and speed of their composition style is reflected in their dynamic production.
Unlike many progressive music compositions which can lyrically and musically waver and confuse they come straight to the point, they make it clear and you get it straight away!
As the electric bass punctuates the keyboard-based sound, the widely alternating drum patterns played exquisitely by Matt easily compensate for the lack of acoustic or electric guitar which in fact would not add anything to the superb sounds they create.
There is lightness without fragility but there is raw power when they choose to play it, the deep passion of Lynsey’s vocal work is entrancing. There is elegance and placidity blended with intense feeling throughout the whole EP .
Above all they’re breathing new life into the music world, they’re not alone, there are others. I hope they get the exposure they deserve.
Avid YouTube followers will find some stunning video representations of some parts of The Thing With Feathers. It’s also worth checking out their remarkable version of Blue Oyster Cults Don’t Fear The Reaper.
Matt was telling me that he had to dash off to drum at a pantomime in Cheshire. Which is as far removed from what he plays on this album as you can get…… “Oh yes it is!”
Watch the video for The River here: