An unsigned indie folk duo based in Stoke/Wolverhampton, Chris Rowley provides vocals and guitar while Gareth Pask handles keyboards. Find Your Way, their second album, kicks off with the gently fingerpicked title track, a call for guidance on strange times and “my compass don’t work/It don’t find home”, be that a heavenly or physical presence (a theme revisited later on ‘Get On Board’), the song building to a jogalong pace with Garage Band brass adding to the bounce.
As the title suggests, the shantyish strumalong ‘Song For The Duped’ casts a cynical eye over those in power feeding the gullible masses who into their “post truth, clap trap junk” as Rowley sings “Let’s raise a glass to the shallow and the proud/Their flag is unfurled, they inherit the world”.
Built around the cascading vocal melody, the strummed ‘It’s OK’ finds acceptance in realising there may “nothing behind that door”, but is essentially a song about faith in whatever will be, as in “if we turn to dust/It’s OK with me/Or in heavenly grace/It’s OK with me”. It’s also probably one of the only songs you’ll hear that mentions the Gordian knot.
The search for purpose and identity (“Enlist me in an index/Mr Miscellaneous could suit me/Classify my existence/Say I’m something/Say I’m not”) is there too on the choppy, bluesy and lyrically playful ‘Give It To Me’ with its ‘Twist And Shout’ styled build to the chorus, though I also hear hints of Gerry Rafferty. Another blues-based track, ‘Bubblin’ Over’ lives up to the title (“splashin’ and a spillin’ and surgin’ and a comin’ down your street”) with a Bo Diddley undercurrent on a song about paranoia (“Look close into the eyes of your kiddies and your wives if they don’t look right take ’em out while they sleep”).
Things calm down for the fingerpicked ‘Not The Only Show In Town’, a reminder not to let your ego run away with you and that “You’re not the only room with a view”, the refrain “Don’t forget who shares the bed with you” perhaps echoing the line about how behind every great man, there’s a woman.
Again arranged for a simple fingerpicked guitar and minimal piano notes, ‘Moving Into Your Scene’ deftly captures the uncertainties of navigating the dating scene (“shall I restyle my hair? Take on a new guise?What clothes shall I wear? What songs do I like? What beliefs apply?”), occupying territory somewhere between Ralph McTell and Don McLean.
They end, first, with the fingerpicked Spanish guitar sound of the jazz-hued ‘Blue Bird’ and its theme of encouraging someone to spread their wings and find their own journey, even if that means having to let go. Given it features Rowley’s daughter Rebekah on harmonies, it’s not hard to guess who it’s about.
And then, finally, the near six-minute jangling ‘Pilgrims’ which, evocative of early Paul Simon but also shaded with Leone Western tones, strikes the most obvious Biblical note in its mention of Emmaus which, if you know Luke’s Gospel, is where Christ appeared after his resurrection, the song moving on to reference both Padre Pio, the twentieth century Italian miracle worker,canonised as a saint and buried in San Giovanni, and the Camino de Santiago, the pilgrim route to the reputed tomb of the Apostle Saint James the Great in Galicia. Again, it’s a song about how we’ve lost our compass and sense of direction, awash on social media streams with “Feelings for all to see/Until it all means nothing”, as Rowley sings, “We want miracles and healing/Souvenirs to show/But we’ve burnt the map that finds them/And don’t know where to go”. Listening to this, it’s clear Bluebyrd have most definitely found their way.
Artists’ website: www.bluebyrdband.co.uk/
‘Song For The Duped’ – official video: