I’ll confess, I’m a little bit in love with Wallis Bird, so much so I couldn’t bear the thought of waiting for the new album and stumped up the cash for the acoustic predecessor The Mistakes Are Intentional. I was worried then, given the beauty of the former, that the latest offering wouldn’t quite match up, a concern that was curbed within just a few short bars. The self titled album is riddled with layers upon layers of intricacy, with all but one of the tracks from the former album reworked, granting them variation, whilst still holding true to the songs.
Truth is something Wallis does well, and as she almost screams out ‘I work harder than hard…’ in Who’s Listening Now? she effortlessly captures the despondency felt by many during the current recession. Whilst I can imagine P!nk penning a similar number, Wallis delivers it with more credibility than the American superstar and the urge to fight is evident in every note. In a similar vein, opener Dress My Skin And Become What I’m Supposed To creates a plethora of questions, and an instant realisation that sometimes ignorance might well be bliss.
Nevertheless, whilst Wallis offers up many carefully crafted lyrics, this is only part of the picture. The pulsing sounds in Heartbeating City combine with the coincidental sirens and birdsong, conjuring a carnival atmosphere where sunshine is compulsory. Elsewhere the musical climax in Take Me Home is granted meaning by the sleeve notes, and the battle to record over the sound of shagging flatmates, whilst In Dictum‘s stripped back sound builds pause for reflection, the focus firmly on the emotion in Wallis’ voice, with an almost gospel quality.
Whilst there’s no single stand out track, it’s I Am So Tired Of That Line which continually draws you back for more. Whether it’s a fight for equality, a thumbs up for feminism or a backlash to all the institutions which hold most of us subconsciously captive, you can read into it what you wish, but its protest vibe layered between catchy riffs seems to linger well beyond the 3 minute offering.
Wallis may have yet to garner the recognition she deserves but fusing folk, rock and a whole dose of tactile vehemence she delivers her most earnest offering to date and ensures that anyone who tends towards more progressive folk will be instantly drawn in. In short, if an Irish versi0n of Ani DiFranco with more melodic lyrics is your thing, Wallis’ new album is unlikely to disappoint.