This is the kind of album you’d like to listen to before going to sleep, or the one you’d play on a Sunday morning when you’re off work. I started to wonder where abouts in the United States this guy is based. Probably somewhere north in one of those forgotten states where there is nothing better to do, and so tempted to take a guitar and get in to that sad and dreamy folk mood trying to escape – at least musically from the boredom of your neighbourhood.
The album itself comes in a beautiful case, the cover showing artwork of a simple plant to prepare you to that folkish atmosphere you’ll be surrounded by from the beginning. As a matter of fact the whole of the album is focused on Allender vocals and his background guitar can be compared to some of Jim O’Rourke solo projects, the only difference being that Allender stays closer to traditional composition, building mainly three minutes songs. Iron and Wine or Chris Brockaw are other songwriters that probably share something with him because of that delicate touch they’re capable to give to their songs, while Aerial M and Nick Drake come to mind when I listen to his gentle guitar melodies.
There is little strength in Allender’s voice and words are constantly delicately whispered in you ears. Sometimes there is a chorus (Leaves is an example) adding more depth to the whole sound while sometimes fellow musicians Alex Wilkins, Sam Tarbuck and Dave Collingwood from Gravenhurst appear giving a little bit of movement to the track. As The School Field is the only song that really makes you move your head to the tempo. Nature is always present: from the album title itself to the track names; often referring to leaves, oceans, waves or winter.
In my opinion the best track remains anyway Stag and Hounds, one of the shortest yet most dramatic songs on The Bird and The Word. Here Allender finds himself back from the war discovering how everything has changed, leaving him incapable of even recognizing the trees of his childhood.
This is however just an example taken out from a box of jewels: Allender managed to escape from the powerful sounds of Gravenhurst to build his intimate universe made of falling leaves and infinite sadness, creating a debut album that is one of the most promising things I heard in a while.
- The Sleeping Years, Were Becoming Islands One by One
- Built To Spill: You in Reverse
- Gravenhurst @ The Luminaire
- Port O’Brien – All We Could Do Was Sing
- Menomena: Friend and Foe