Bricks And Feathers By Harry Bird And The Rubber Wellies – Album Review
Travelling folk band Harry Bird and the Rubber Wellies release their third album, Bricks and Feathers, an eleven track collection of feel-good folk tunes to ramble around the world to. Based in Dublin and Bilbao, the band do around 100 concerts each year all over Europe, playing folk clubs, folk festivals, art centres, theatres, cafés, bars, festivals and circus galas alike.
Setting the vibes from the get go, ‘Hit a Wall in Me’ opens the album, featuring bouncy bass and guitar, soulful harmonies and simple percussive sounds. The less than two minute track is a great opener, and like most of the album, just puts a smile on your face. A more laid back piano sound in ‘There’s a River’ provides a pleasant lull, and ‘All Among the Waves’ continues the chilled out mood with slow, offbeat pulses and long, soothing melodies left right and centre. All these tunes are short, but oh so sweet. Nothing kills a good album more than drawn out filler, and this album seems to have very little.
Bird’s vocals shine through in album highlight thus far, ‘Laughter in Sleep’, and draws you in with the great story telling and minimalist production quality. This more sombre number is so much more than easy listening folk music, and a mid song strings break is harrowingly beautiful. Genuine artists like these make you remember how well folk music can resonate with just about anyone, and put the current chart toppers of the category to shame.
The vibe is brought back up to a more lively one over the next few tracks, and the catchy ‘Up Until Sunrise’ does the job perfectly, combining upbeat banjo riffing and slick harmonica solos. It’s quite evident that Bird has a remarkable talent for both melody and harmony, which is so key for this type of music. Writing a consistently fresh sounding album of eleven tracks with an average of four chords per song is no easy feat, but is done to perfection here.
The cheery horns driven ‘Roll out the Cannon’ leads into the final track, ‘The Pigeon Lord’. Another short song, this tune is one of the more subtle and stripped back ones. Almost sounding like a polka, the quiet guitar and vocals are accompanied by a minor piano theme which provides a simple yet effective counter melody over Bird’s orate vocals, the story telling as strong as ever.
Folk is one of those genres that seems nigh impossible to stand out in. With such a traditional and common approach to it, a lot of it seems to sound the same for your average listener. This is by no means the case for Harry Bird and his merry men. Every track has a totally unique flare to it, and there is absolutely no self indulgent filler. I dare anyone who doesn’t like folk to listen to this album and tell me it’s the same as anything else.