- 23 Oct 19
The Wexford artist triumphs with socially conscious sixth album
At a time when so many acts are opting for escapism, Wallis Bird is refusing to turn the other cheek. Boldly confronting some of the biggest social and political debates of the era through song, the Wexford-born artist's sixth album, Woman, is her most accomplished yet.
Opening with 'As The River Flows', inspired by the death of the three-year-old Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi, it's instantly clear that Wallis is not attempting a clean and calculated analysis of modern society, but a portrait fuelled by raw emotion. Self-described as the "most important song I might ever have written", the opener contains some of the most starkly honest, liberating lyrics of her career: "A baby lost its family, lost its life/ Don't turn your face away/ Don't tell me borders are for jobs and civic order/ When I know you see it differently/ You want your palette white, you want it cleaned."
While the content is certainly weighty, addressing every pressing topic from immigration to abortion, Woman avoids revelling in angst and misery. An accessible pop-sheen is embraced across the album's lush production - notably on the sunshine-infused 'Life Is Long' and the Janelle Monáe-inspired guitar-driven funk of 'Salve'.
The folk-flavoured 'Brutal Honesty' shifts the focus inwards, as does 'Time It Is Not Waiting', a tender, piano-led moment of serenity. Closing track 'Repeal' wastes no time dancing around the subject, instead delving immediately into the reality of women's struggle for bodily autonomy: "Let me decide what's good for me." Wallis packs an effectively poignant punch by incorporating voices of women discussing the movement to Repeal the Eighth, gradually building the layers of the track until it forms a triumphant battle cry.
With this immediacy, Wallis brings her portrait of the modern woman to life - celebrating her ability to find the joy in humanity despite these dark days.