Review – Exploring Birdsong – The Thing With Feathers

‘Rarely are new groups as exciting, talented or unique as Exploring Birdsong, the piano-led guitarless trio from Liverpool who have announced their signing to German independent label Long Branch Records.

Having recently graduated from Liverpool’s Institute of Performing Arts, the young group have already caught the eyes Prog Magazine, Kerrang! Magazine, Kerrang! Radio and Classic Rock Magazine as well as achieved two Progressive Music Awards nominations in 2019. Having only released two singles at this point, Exploring Birdsong have been hand-picked to support Sleep Token, toured with proggers Godsticks, caught the attention of Florence and the Machine, and performed at HRH Prog. Unplaceable for the most part, the band bring to mind elements of Steven WilsonKate Bush, RushSleep Token, and Agent Fresco.

The young trio are comprised of drummer Matt Harrison, bassist and keyboardist Jonny Knight (capable of playing both instruments simultaneously), and topped by keyboardist and vocalist Lynsey Ward‘s stunning, otherworldly vocals.’

Some mighty impressive PR writing there but, having seen and spoken to this talented trio at HRH Prog in 2018, I know there is some substance to the claims.

The EP is broadly speaking a concept release, centred on the Seamus Heaney poem ‘Bye Child’ and the story of Kevin Halfpenny, one of the most bizarre cases of child cruelty ever recorded. This is mirrored in the EP title and cover art, with broken backbones becoming broken wings. The title itself also references Emily Dickinson’s “’Hope’ is the thing with feathers” poem, which itself is a call-back to the music found within. Good and evil are never too far from each other and you may never really fully be able to have one without the other.

These three met at University and started writing some of the material on the EP not long after and a direct result of that is a massive feeling of maturity to the music, a profundity you hear running throughout tracks such as The River and The Baptism.

There is power and deep emotion in the music, given release by the expert playing of Matt and Jonny, the keyboards and drums syncing perfectly to produce a veritable wall of sound on the more compelling pieces and yet being exquisitely ethereal and sublime where needed.

Lynsey’s vocals are utterly captivating, she has a voice that is porcelain smooth and yet seems to have endless depths of emotion, passion and empathy, almost operatic in places. You can just lose yourself to the enveloping welcoming embrace and warmth of songs like the incredibly elegant The Downpour.

The Thing With Feathers‘ is an utterly absorbing twenty-one minutes of music and delivers an undoubted new talent onto the music scene. Serene and graceful yet with a deep intelligence running throughout, I haven’t been this excited about a new artist in a very, very long time.

Released 29th November 2019

Order the EP from the link below:

https://exploringbirdsong.bandcamp.com/album/the-thing-with-feathers

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