Album Review: Wallis Bird

Wallis Bird (Rubyworks)

"You don't know shit!" - what a way to open an album! The lyric, taken from Dress My Skin And Become What I'm Supposed To, is the work of Irish musician, Wallis Bird; a musical magpie who defies categorisation and isn't afraid to assert her individuality. Her self-titled third album is no different, providing mature, self-affirming tracks with a wide emotional scope.

Bird's fascinating vocals are the real highlight of this record; truly captivating and fresh, but utterly unusual. From the first utterances on the album, Bird's low and haunting tones have an eerie resonance, swelling and swirling around the plucks of acoustic guitar and choral accompaniment. But if you thought this would continue throughout the record, you'd be very wrong.

The second track, I Am So Tired Of That Line, jumps into life with an upbeat country vibe, twangy steel-stringed guitars and vocal slides. The versatility and talent of Bird is really showcased on this song as she dives into a Carrie Underwood-esque vocal style with an attitude to match that of Alanis Morissette. There are some great lines featured in this track, like "You hunt the food, I make the babies", and the chorus hook, "Jump on board, a train's coming", which, in Bird's own words is about "vocalising ourselves to push for higher understanding", specifically referring to the problems Ireland has faced during the recession.

As well as using music to tackle personal topics, It's no secret that this record follows a political theme and was written and recorded in three separate places. However, although sperate places in a geographical sense, Bird has said that they were deliberately chosen "to impose their unique atmospheres onto the songs". The three writing bases included the communist broadcasting station in Berlin of the former GDR where the government broadcast its propaganda until the Berlin wall came down, an isolated ghost ridden cottage on a godforsaken cliff edge in Ireland during the worst snowstorms in thirty years and Bird's own flat in Brixton, South London, against a backdrop of screaming sirens and looting as the London riots threatened to overrun the city. The purpose: to try and make sense of the turmoil and chaos that surrounds society everyday.

Encore, the first single from the album, is a confident, poppy track with a radio-friendly feel. It's a song about reflection and simplicity, once again showing Bird's adaptable voice; this time, powerful and rocky with a classic and timeless air. The heavily produced, shiny feel of tracks like Encore, are beautifully contrasted with the more delicate and folky numbers like But, I'm Still Here, I'm Still Here. Perhaps one of the more emotional tracks on the record, it explains the feeling of being lost and trying to find your place in the world. Bird's voice is soft, meaningful and slightly pained with he music shifting between the melancholic and the more uplifting. A sense of relief is felt in the chorus with the childish, playful chimes of a glockenspiel before inevitably falling back to the gloomy depths.


This is one of the most diverse albums I've heard in a long time. Bird's ability at evoking and delivering a whole spectrum of emotions, together with her accomplished songwriting talents, means you can't help but get swept up in it all. Although incorporating her personal experiences about the world in chaos, she manages to express them in a way that is relatable, uniting listeners in the human condition.

Constantly changing, Wallis Bird is a delightfully unpredictable record, experimenting and altering with sounds and styles throughout, making for a hugely exciting listen.