- 27 May 22
Excellent seventh album from Hot Press cover star
I was introduced to the artistry of Wallis Bird by another one of our own – emerging alt-folk star, Dani Larkin. Bird has been a massive influence on Larkin, the seminal moment coming when Dani watched her play live at The Academy in Dublin all the way back in 2010. Wallis has been a Berlin resident for the past decade, making great music throughout and beaming it back to Ireland. It is hard to credit, but the Ballyfermot Rock School grad is now on her seventh album.
And it is a special one. On Hands, Bird merges her colourful sounds with serious themes (gender rights, alcoholism, trust) and unflinching self-examination. This latter characteristic is encapsulated in the photograph of her own hand on the cover: it may have been a source of major trauma for Bird at the age of 18 months, when she lost her fingers, in an accident, and had three of them successfully reattached – but the message here is that she has nothing whatsoever to hide.
The opening track ‘Go’ is a spacious, synth-based, two-minute delight. Bird then delves into R&B on ‘What’s Wrong With Changing’ (including the brilliant lines, “2015 and the island of Ireland/ Is making a real big scene/ Panti Bliss is the Queen!”); there’s a taste of ‘80s-style electronica on ‘I Lose Myself Completely’; and gorgeously atmospheric, psychedelic dreaminess on ‘Aquarius’.
Perhaps the strongest track is ‘Dreamwriting’, a full-bodied blend of early Sarah McLachlan and Two Door Cinema Club that hits a dramatic as well as musical high. Elsewhere, Bird’s Irish lilt is most evident on ‘The Power Of A Word’ and the stripped-back ‘I’ll Never Hide My Love Away’. The latter, in particular, finds Bird at her most emotionally revealing.
Hands is at once upbeat, assertive, unconventional and playful – a truly wonderful record.
Read our cover story on Wallis Bird – who's interviewed by Panti Bliss! – in the current issue of Hot Press: