Based in Manchester, despite their name this is actually a duo, Frank and Kara Filbey, although Silvereye has them accompanied by double bassist James Geluk, fiddle player Becka Wolfe and Louis Thompson-Munn on organ, recording their parts remotely variously in New Zealand and Greece.
Taking its title from a bird commonly found in New Zealand (where, relocated from Edinburgh, Burkitt lived until recently) Silvereye, written in response to the 2019 Christchurch shooting, serves here as a metaphor for hope, beauty and innocence.
It’s an album of reflective folk that mingles the personal with the sharply political, opening with the introspective soulfully sung ‘I Know Nothing At All’ with its mellow James Taylor groove, switching tack for the spare, dreamily fingerpicked sound of ‘World King’, a scathing attack (“I don’t want to hate you but you leave me no choice”) on the self-absorbed politically ambitious that the blurb says is about Boris Johnson but could apply just as easily to Trump or any of their ilk. Trump, though, does get his own turn as the target with the bluesy, organ-based, lazy carousel fingerpicked rhythm of ‘Why I Hate You’.
The title track is one of the particular highlights, rolling a gentle bluesy undulating melody line to a similar effect as Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Albatross’, but with added woodwind, keeping the Laurel Canyon blues ambience simmering on the laid back verse trading duet ‘Mr Lonesome’. Things don’t ever really rise above a relaxed groove, so it’s more an album for lying back and letting it wash across you rather than spiking the adrenaline, but that’s not a criticism as, Burkitt generally on lead with Filbey harmonising, it floats across languid fingerpicked melody lines, the guitar work coloured here and there with trumpet, flute, charango on the likes of ‘Don’t Be Afraid’, the simple but lovely fingerpicked, flute soothed lullaby ‘Red Bird’ or the brass burnished ‘I Do Not Suffer’ which, like the crooned ‘Only You’, has a retro airy, jazzy vibe.
It ends with the fluttering guitar notes of the 70s SoCal folksy ‘Through Leaves’, a fiddle solo spotlight ode to a simpatico relationship, side by side, bitching about the world, “talking shit and feeling free” that sends it off with another evocation of sweet baby James. Burkitt says it’s his most personal and most self-indulgent work. You might well want to indulge yourself too.
Artists’ website: www.frankburkitt.co.nz
‘World King’ – official video: