Alex Bird and Ewen Farncombe channel the vintage sounds of the great American Songwriter with their sophisticated, stunning and superb new album — showcasing today on Tinnitist.
An authentic, loving throwback to the glory days of artists like Bill Evans and Tony Bennett, Songwriter brings the charismatic Juno-nominated duo of velvet-voiced singer Bird and expressive pianist Farncombe together for their third original album in as many years. With 11 new originals inspired by timeless torch ballads, saloon songs and last-call laments, Songwriter is a passionately precise and intensely intimate odyssey. It deviates from their work with Jazz Mavericks, as Bird believes in never giving an audience the same exact thing every time.
Songwriter introduces itself with This Song Is Ours, meandering between sunlight and melancholy — “nightbirds that sing” — and featuring introspective interludes juxtaposed with cascading piano. Conversely, I’ve Seen The Sun is marching and jaunty, tinkling with hopeful optimism. The following track, The Soul I’ve Left Behind, is dark and bereft, brooding on a relationship that’s come to an end and lingering on all the ways the narrator has fallen short as both a person and a lover. The gothic theme continues with Nighttime Grooves, slinky and sexy with Bird’s voice shimmying through the dark-horse galloping of piano as he challenges, “Can you feel them, those nighttime grooves?”
Symphony Of Love alternates between lighthearted confessions of love, and the stormier frustrations of being led on by someone who’s not all in — “So I am waiting and you, you’re contemplating.” Raindrops meditates on grey moods and indoor days with beautiful “drizzling” piano, mimicking the sounds of rain in all its iterations and concluding with audio of an actual storm. If You’re Not Laughing is a bluesy, full-of-attitude ode to keeping your chin up, staying realistically positive, and maintaining a sense of humor — “If you’re not laughin’, you’re cryin’, my friend.”
What’s Inside gives us floating, gauzy vocals and piano sections that beat like the wings of a bird. It’s a particularly dramatic track, sonically cinematic and lyrically dark and poetic, delving into the unknowable psyche of another human being. I’ll Go Where You Lead is velvety and exploratory, as lover pledges trust and devotion. Tiny Warbler, meanwhile, is a song of nature’s innocence and the beauty of steadfast love. The album concludes with the title track, another bluesy number that turns the album inward on itself, an honest pulling back of the curtain on the sometimes-punishing grind of writing songs — “Wake up and write that song.”
Having done that successfully and repeatedly, Bird and Farncombe have begun to take centre stage on the Canadian jazz scene. Creating timeless and heartfelt originals for a modern audience, the talented duo have spent the past four years producing an alchemy that’s completely unique. With Juno nominations, reviews from around the world, and even the crafting of the Thanksgiving single The Sweetest Moments, Bird and Farncombe are making themselves known.