Feature

Fish & Bird’s shout worth hearing

The first few seconds of any album may just be the most important.

On Fish & Bird‘s upcoming new album, Every Whisper is a Shout Across the Void, the first four seconds consist of a raw, lonely a cappella voice singing the opening number’s first, freighted word: “feeling.”

That one word sets the tone for the rest of the album. It’s as if, in that first instant, the band grabs the listener and holds on till the record’s finished.

Known for their unusual time signatures and funky approaches to traditional sounds, prog-folk project Fish & Bird have grown from a duo on their first album in 2006 to a crew of five musicians hailing from four cities across the country. Adam Iredale-Gray (fiddle, vocals) Ryan Boeur (acoustic & electric guitars) Ben Kelly (drums, percussion) Zoe Guigueno (upright bass, vocals) and Taylor Ashton (vocals, banjo) are as diverse sonically as they are geographically.

On this, their third album, the musicians take turns guiding songs, giving the album a diversity of direction, from the fiddle taking lead on the expansive instrumental “Circle Tune” to the buzzy guitar on “Crazy Dream.”

Though they’re young, Fish & Bird have a mature sense of  honest emotion that creates a balance between their modern lyrics and their traditionally-influenced folk tunes.

It’s Fish & Bird’s lyrics that appeal most to me. This is a Canadian band, writing in Canada, about Canada (song titles include “Winnipeg” and “Northern Lights”). Without sticking to overt narratives, the songs tend thematically towards vignettes of human connection: a brush with a soft leg at brunch, a long glance across a campfire, shared body heat in a Winnipeg winter. And while drawing these familiar pictures, the songs don’t try to get too close; they’re observational, and they’re incomplete. As Ashton sings, on “Space Telescope,”I can’t put my finger on just what is is/ but I know it’s there.”

Every Whisper is a Shout Across the Void is an evocative album title, and it’s apt for this record. This is an upstart band sending their art into the mire of the music industry, finding meaning and inspiration in this country’s vast spaces, and those first long, lonely syllables at the start of the album.

The feeling behind a whisper is what makes it a shout. Fish & Bird is a band full of feeling, and this album is a shout worth hearing.

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4 comments

  1. avatar
    Emma Jane 17 March, 2011 at 13:11

    I’m 99% sure that they’re in the Cameron front room next week, Thur (24th) and the following (31st) from 6-8 PM! Can’t wait!

  2. avatar
    AJ 18 March, 2011 at 16:55

    Solid review. I like the idea of softly spoken words travelling great distances and packing a punch. May have to pass by the Cameron next week (thanks for the tip @Emma Jane)

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