Although Bluebyrd don’t want Song And Dance to be seen as a lockdown album, they’re clear that it’s influenced by the thoughts and feelings they went through at that time. It’s no surprise then that this, their third album, is a very thoughtful piece of work.
Hailing from Wolverhampton, Bluebyrd are a duo consisting of singer and guitarist Chris Rowley, and keyboard player Gareth Pask. Their music is contemporary folk, often with a strong Americana influence. It’s very much a two man operation with Chris taking care of production, and Gareth as the band’s manager. Chris is also the songwriter and has produced twelve intelligent and well-crafted songs for this album.
First up is the title track, a plea to live life to the full without waiting for things to change; “Dance like there’s no tomorrow, Sing a song like you don’t care.” The track has a pleasant tune, lead by the guitar with the keyboard producing a harmonica like effect.
‘Crystals’ tells of a young woman’s obsession. A theme running through Song And Dance is the search for certainty and answers in an unpredictable world. That includes clinging to something spiritual, and of doubtful reliability, like the crystals that the protagonist of this song spends her limited funds on. The lively and infectious tune has a strong Americana feel, with a hint of Tex-Mex, as Gareth’s keyboard produces and accordion sound.
Another theme of this album is the intoxicating nature of music. Sometimes healing, but capable of taking over one’s soul. ‘The Siren Song’ takes inspiration from ancient Greek mythology, and the mystical feel of the guitar opening continues throughout. The track includes an instrumental section that evokes the mythological sirens – strange, feminine sea creatures whose singing lured sailors to their doom.
A more comforting view of music follows in ‘Sing Me A Song’. The tune feels quite sorrowful, but the song is an appeal for the comforting effect of music; “Sing me the song that will take me by the hand, Pull me from the sea and place me on the land”,
The tempo is picked up by a lively tune, with an Americana feel on ‘Where Does The River Flow?’. This is another song about the yearning for certainty and the need to live life to the full without looking for answers, big answers. Mystical attempts to get answers are given short shrift again; “Take your tarot cards/And hide them in the backyard”.
Given the heavy themes covered on Song And Dance, finding some tranquillity seems like a good idea. The next track. ‘Rockpools’ does just that, with its invitation to relax at the coast. We also get away from the Americana feel with a Latin jazz rhythm, hinting at Bossa Nova. The track has a suitably dreamy feel and works well.
Two love songs follow. The rockabilly influenced ‘Babe It’s You And Me’, takes a not entirely serious look at obsession. ‘I Ain’t Got A Ticket To Ride’ is more optimistic, with its tribute to enduring love. Guitar and keyboards combine well on a gently upbeat tune.
Song And Dance certainly takes us through a range of emotions, and a sweet song about devoted love is followed by the most distressing on the album. ‘The Bridge’ is a true life story about a man seen on a bridge, close to jumping. It’s a relief that, in the lyrics, the narrator tells us that he was successfully talked down. This is a compassionate song, carrying a wish that the protagonist has found a better, safer place.
Thankfully, it’s time for another escape. The mellow and gentle ‘Stanton Drew’ takes us on a visit to the site of mysterious stone monoliths in Somerset, to find some peace and tranquillity. Stanton Drew is close to Bristol and this track has made me want to take a trip there!
Of course, the tranquillity couldn’t last, and the title of Too Much Noise’ says it all. The noise is the endless cacophony of the online World, and the song is a plea for us all to be heard. The tune has a quicker tempo, sometimes suggesting and appropriately frantic mood.
‘Lost’ is the final, and shortest track on the album. It’s also the nearest it gets to being overtly political, as it deals with easily led people, who fall into blaming innocent scapegoats and using them as “Somewhere to rest abuse”. A point well made, and a satisfying conclusion to the album.
Bluebyrd might not have a high profile, but Song And Dance is in many ways an impressive album that deserves attention. The twelve songs are intelligent, with well-constructed lyrics and serious points to make. Chris’ vocals are clear and easy to listen to. On my first listening, the tunes didn’t make much of an impression, but they reward more playing again. Songs like ‘Crystals’ and ‘Where Does the River Flow?’ have definitely stayed in my mind, and in a good way! Well worth a listen.
Artist website: www.bluebyrdband.co.uk
‘The Bridge’ – live:
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