Monday, February 13, 2012

Favourite Albums of 2011 #1: "The Fallen By Watch Bird"

I decided to compile a list of my favourite records of 2011 – the albums that came my way in 2011 that I most liked, regardless of the year in which the music was recorded. I also decided to reject base-ten numbering and have ended up listing 12 records – nine albums and three CD-Rs. Over the next two weeks my end of year reconsiderations of these records will appear, starting with this one:

Jane Weaver
The Fallen By Watch Bird [2010]

In late 2010 I went to the Belle & Sebastian curated Nightmare Before Christmas. Jane Weaver was on the bill, but I did not go and see her, largely because I had never heard of her (and she might also have been on at an inconvenient time). I did later see a copy of her album being sold at the merchandise stall and noticed that it was a co-release between Bird Records and the interesting Finders Keepers label. Thinking that it looked intriguing I took a punt on it. Thus it was that I acquired what became my favourite album of the 2011.

In broad outline terms one might class this as belonging to the world of the singer-songwriter. That summons up the image of some insipid character strumming away on an acoustic guitar, inflicting adolescent poetry on the listener. This record is not like that.

The first couple of tracks segue into each other, presenting us with an almost psychedelic piece complete with semi-occult stream of consciousness narration from Susan Christie (one of those people who keep guest-starring on Finders Keepers records), before leading into the record's title track, a piece relying on a variety of instruments with nary an acoustic guitar in sight. I gather this is meant to tell some kind of story about loved ones across the sea and birds flying back to bring good tidings, but frankly it is a bit oblique and I treasure more the strange sense of longing it communicates. This is all helped by Jane Weaver's voice, somewhat understated but capable of communicating real emotional depth in a subtle manner. After those tracks we are in acoustic guitar territory, but the sound stays away from the bland singer-songwriter clichés and draws more from a neo-folk spring of creativity. It is all very beautiful and I am still listening to this record over and over.

my original review

An inuit panda production

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