DIANE BIRCH – Flying On Abraham (Topanga Creed Records)

Flying On AbrahamMusician and singer-songwriter, Diane Birch is set to release her fifth project, Flying On Abraham next month. The collection marks Birch’s first new release in nearly a decade.

Immediately apparent upon perusal of the tracklist for Flying On Abraham is an idiosyncratic approach on the part of Birch with regard to the project’s conceptualization. Titles like ‘Wind Machine’, ‘Moto Moon’, and ‘Boys On Canvas’ aren’t exactly the standard fare, though such quirks serve as a breath of fresh air in a self-cannibalizing music market generally intent on appealing solely to the lowest common denominator of consumer.

Musically, Flying On Abraham benefits from a tight-knit personnel list consisting primarily of Birch herself on vocals and keys, Paul Stacey on bass and guitar, and Jeremy Stacey on drums. There are, of course, exceptions, with additional instrumentation from other players cropping up on some of the more dense arrangements offered up throughout the record. But the core three musical contributors maintain a thread of sorts throughout the album, providing a sense of consistency that gives the collection a unified sensibility.

Opening track, ‘Wind Machine’ acts as a musical mission statement in the sense that it places front and centre Birch’s own distinct voice as both a singer and writer, as well as the array of influences from which she drew for the project, including classic soul, r&b, jazz, and many more.

The conversational opener, which has its origins in a dream, according to Birch herself, ruminates on the process of determining the substance, or lack thereof, inherent within exchanges and experiences with a given person. The tune closes with a set of lines which could knock a listener off their feet through the subtlety with which they manage to convey the exponential sense of loss that all too often comes right on the heels of a long awaited hope:

“November is comin’ on and the nights are getting longer
Summer always deceives
little promises like the orange leaves”

The apparent vastness of Birch’s own musical scope as both a listener and musician lead to an album full of surprises, none of which ever feel out of place in spite of their idiosyncratic nature. Late album cut, ‘Russian Doll’, for example, gets underway with gospel-leaning piano tones and a vocal which, once complimented by Stacey’s acoustic guitar, brings to mind the work of American country music legend, Tanya Tucker.

Meanwhile, ‘Shade’ glides along atop show tune-style musical movements, while straight-ahead drums and keys playing unencumbered in 4/4 provide hip-hop undertones which serve as an ideal counterpoint to the bones of the tune, which seem rooted in elements pulled from the Great American Songbook.

Closing track, ‘Trampoline’ spins a tale of self-reflection over appropriately emotive chord sequences which compliment an impressively nuanced and wide-ranging vocal from Birch. Elegant keys endowed with the occasional chromatic movement provide a sense of tension and release reflective of the lyrical content, which Birch says capture, “the highs and lows of trying to be great…It was really about the yearning for more, for alignment with divinity, for magic.

Flying On Abraham is presented in a concise ten tracks spamming various moods, themes, and musical imagery. The record is a notable personal, artistic, and musical statement which rewards repeat listens and continues the establishment of Diane Birch as one of the most endearing and engaging artists on the modern scene.

Flying On Abraham will be available on April 12, 2024, via Topanga Creed Records.

Cameron Gunnoe

Artist’s website: https://www.dianebirch.com/

We all give our spare time to run folking.com. Our aim has always been to keep folking a free service for our visitors, artists, PR agencies and tour promoters. If you wish help out and donate something (running costs currently funded by Paul Miles), please click the PayPal link below to send us a small one off payment or a monthly contribution.