Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
If you are fortunate, if your ears are clear after the end of year celebrations and the realisation that the following year is one to hopefully savour, one to embrace the call of nature as it sings and chirps beautifully in the hedgerows and on top of the nearest building as the winter sun hits the world and greets it with a smile. Regardless of whether it is the song of the brightest, purest dove or the tune of Small Brown Birds, what counts is your appreciation of the hymn being played out as the dawn and hope peeks out from behind its dying year curtain.
American born but now British based Zoe Mulford releases Small Brown Birds out into the world, the cage of the artist’s heart is unlocked and the freedom of personality, of the flight and the voyage undertaken is not one of cheap memory but the start of exotic, yet homely, plumage, one that has a song to sing brightly.
In songs such as February Thunder, The Queen of Skye, the friendliness and faith placed in Back Door Key, The President Sang Amazing Grace, the beauty of humour and underlying sarcasm and knocking at the roots of dishonesty of the capitalist system in Zillionaire, Zoe Mulford captures the early year zeitgeist, to clean house, to get the feelings out of the way and the desire to sing with the new dawn. It is that new song which captivates and protects against the shudder of the old, of the fresh biting wind having a drawn feather safeguarding the young and fledgling tracks.
A wonderful start to the year, one that puts a smile on the face as the sweetness and thought of purity comes over the music in waves; the unproblematic and smoothness of the voice sparks and manifests without a hitch in the collaboration with Tom Kitching, Sam McEvoy and Ken Pendergrast and the contribution by Bob Beach, Pat Wictor, Cheryl Prashker, Matthew Landis, Michael G. Ronstadt, Mark Allen and Ross Bellenoit and a tremendous choir infiltrating the final track of the album, Won’t You Come In, Small Brown Birds is not some small warble caught on the wind, it is the orchestra in flight, the folk ensemble that catches the ear and it is one to celebrate.
Zoe Mulford releases Small Brown Birds on January 19th via Azalea City Recordings.
Music fans in the North West will be able to catch Ms. Mulford in Stockport’s Midway Folk Club on Monday 23rd April.
Ian D. Hall