Singer-songwriter Kirsty Almeida is set to release Moonbird, her first studio album since 2014’s Déjàvoodu on her own independent label, All Made Up Records.
Currently living in the hills of Hebden Bridge in the North of England, the Gibraltarian returns with new creative vigour following a recording hiatus, which saw her devoting time to her young son as well as healing from PTSD and post-natal depression. Influenced by the experience of motherhood, an innate love of storytelling and affinity with the natural world, Almeida’s nine-song collection exhibits accomplished song-craft, rich arrangements and exquisite production.
The album was recorded between a variety of studios including John Ellis’ Limefield studio, George Atkins’ 80 Hertz, The Travelling Band’s Pinhole Sound, Terry Britton’s Mancave and Low Four Studios at Manchester’s Old Granada studios. The former Decca signed artist enlisted the services of Grammy award-winning engineers Jerry Boys (Buena Vista Social Club/Toumani Diabaté) and Greg Calbi (John Mayer, Norah Jones and Bon Iver) to mix and master the LP. The album cover shot was taken by iconic Rock Archive photographer Jill Furmanovsky (Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, The Clash).
“This album debuts the real me”, Almeida states, “the warrior, the artist, the wizard, the girl, the broken, the found and the re-birthed”.
With its South American flavours and huge swirling vocal and string arrangements, title track ‘Moonbird’ is a work of art. Kirsty pulls out the musical stops with its 5/4 time signature and it is hypnotic, while ‘I’m Going To Love You’ encapsulates the sound of the New Orleans saloon or Hootenanny celebration.
‘Josie Brown’, produced by BBC lifetime achievement award-winning Bill Leader, is a blue and uplifting first-person account of an elderly childhood mentor. It captures the warmth of Kirsty’s voice and guitar playing, embellished with dustings of acoustic piano and delicately placed strings which elevate the humble song to glorious heights. Hearing it for the first time, musician and producer Martin Glover, aka.Youth, commented: ‘If that’s a true story she’s an incredible songwriter and if it’s not, she’s a f**king genius.’ When prolific award-winning songwriter Guy Chambers heard Kirsty sing Josie Brown live by chance he asked her to collaborate with him on a song.
Kirsty’s love of 19th century parlour guitars also informs her songwriting. The instruments were crafted for women to entertain in the parlors. The smaller body was designed to fit the petite frame of women at the time, reflecting femininity. They lend what Kirsty terms an “indescribable magic” to songs like ‘You Make My Heart’. Parlor guitars aren’t the only captivating stringed instruments in use, however, as John Haycock’s West African kora adds light, regal melodies to the subtly arranged ‘Into The Light’, while a lilting, shimmering electric guitar played by guitar master, Billy Buckley, underpins the sweet and soulful ‘Find Your Way’.
“I am so thankful to the musicians who made this album with me,” Almeida professes. “They poured their beautiful musicality into the album and helped me build my wings with their encouragement. I am more me than I ever have been and this album is my most honest offering to date.”
The singer, who gave the world a wondrous collection of Winter Songs, here eschews the darkness of wintertide, bringing light and positivity to the fore. “I feel like the last five years of my life was a journey into the darkest places in me,” Kirsty explains, “bringing light to the most painful places I never even knew existed ‘till post-natal depression and PTSD cracked me open, so I could become the best version of me. I am now healthier and happier than I ever was before and I have such a new appreciation of music and my relationship with it.”
‘Into The Light’: