In The Willows – Fallen Bird EP – Review
Waterford/Kilkenny collective In The Willows return with their brand EP Fallen Bird after a quiet period away following the release of their 2014 debut album Before Everybody Disappears. While their debut LP release had some beautiful moments – ‘It’s Over’, ‘Sirens’, and the spellbinding ‘Time Of Year’ come to mind – it was always hard not to wonder how good the band would be with higher production values. Happily, the most instantly noticeable aspect of the new material is that it’s a far more polished affair than their debut.
Recorded in the plush surroundings of Attica Studios in County Donegal, The Fallen Bird EP gives the band the rich production their songs have long deserved. Opener ‘Tempting Me’ begins with softly finger-picked guitar, piano chords, and gorgeous ‘boy-girl’ harmonies before breaking into a tempo-change reminiscent of Irish folk-rock legends The Frames at their dramatic best. The EP’s title track has jaunty folk quality similar to The Beatles ‘Norwegian Wood’, augmented by lush instrumental textures featuring mandolin, piano, acoustic guitar and violin before a captivating breakdown with female co-vocalist Tara Heffernan’s flawless voice taking over, providing a nice counterpoint in the process, while the softly sung ‘Outro’ takes on a more chilled-out vibe with the dual vocal harmonies again taking centre stage.
One of In The Willows major strengths is how they sound like no-one else operating in the Irish music scene right now. A beautiful melding of pop melodies, Irish trad arrangements fused with elements of the folk singer-songwriter genre, resulting in a sound that is uniquely Irish in the best possible way. Catch In The Willows launch the EP with a live show at Dublin’s Smock Alley Theatre on April 26th. On this evidence, it’s a show not to be missed.