There isn’t perhaps a more traditional form of song than the folk song, echoing around campfires for centuries, maybe millennia; until its popularisation alongside blues in the 1950’s. Such historical weight gives folk music a preordained resonance but also intensifies expectation with such a plethora of artists to stand comparison. The real tradition of folk emanates from the concept of story-telling in a time where news and infamy were slow to travel – on the backs of folk musicians. Until The Bird… (of the Soul Takes Flight from the Cage of the Body to Consort with the Nightingales of the Everlasting Garden – to give them their full title) very much adhere to this ideal and seem well grounded in the traditions to which they turn their hand. They incorporate traditional elements from bluegrass as well with their ensemble of strings, accordion, and finger-picked rhythms of guitarist and vocalist, David Hawkins.
Embedded, are aspects which pine for days of old, both in the musicianship but more prominently in the lyricism. On ‘From a Welsh Kitchen’, Until The Bird… sing “Nature will give us exactly what we require today,” with further oat-ground references of fish filling satchels and men earning their bread. Here is exemplified the ‘simplicity of life’ theme which much of folk music attaches itself too, along with biblical allusions of ‘Eden’ and ‘Jerusalem’.
Until The Bird – Dwelling
So at first glance Dwelling could seem like folk reemerging as a new interpretation of the same old message, but it isn’t quite that. When we encounter the musicianship beyond frontman Hawkins alone, it’s in an inventive and refreshing experience. Of course it’s still undoubtedly rooted in the history, but it resonates and actually requires more exposure than it receives.
This is indicative of the issues which arise on the EP. They aren’t a question of competency, originality, or even song-writing. What is needed is thorough refinement of the construction of each piece. The lyrics have an essence of poeticism, creating remarkable imagery of “Gannets back-stitching the waves,” and sensory contradictions; “You smell of war/and rare orchids/and tropical storms/and swarms of drones.” Until The Bird… clearly have remarkable poetic talent but these precious pockets are glazed over, drowning in an intense volume of words. Hawkins’ vocal style is colloquial and distinctive, strengthening in extended passages but becoming bludgeoning at times as well. Again, the intensity remains, much like the lyrics, impenetrable.
It’s easy to become stranded from the meaning by the sheer force of elements requiring attention simultaneously. Yet, still, Until The Bird… have their own form of folk aspect which is perhaps the least easily acquirable trait. Their song-writing will undoubtedly refine from this, their debut EP, and hopefully accentuate their strengths in a more effective manner. Perhaps ideas need to distill into clarity and their abilities assigned to the appropriate mood with a greater appreciation of ambience. And perhaps leave something unsaid for us to explore in our own imagination, because it stands as a didactic expression which belongs to Hawkins alone and not something which the listener can imprint their own experience on to.
Released on 3rd December 2012 via Bandcamp