Before we rush headlong into the brand new decade that’s unfolding before us, let’s take a second to look back at some exciting new music released towards the end of last year. Bird in the Belly presented us with their much anticipated second album Neighbours and Sisters last October and we were delighted to have them return for a second session and play a track from the release. Indeed, the observant amongst you may well recognise Laura Ward (vocals) and Adam Ronchetti (guitar), from their other project, Hickory Signals, whom we’ve also had the pleasure of hosting in the past.
This beautifully melancholy track ‘Bright Light’ takes some of its lyrics from an old WW1 song called ‘The Little House on the Hill’, a tune the Brighton based band discovered on a Sussex Traditions website. It tells the story of a young soldier longing for his home and the band expertly convey the mixed emotions of loss and hope in their compelling take on this old tune. Laura Ward’s vocals are pure and precise, toeing the line between a sensitive delicacy and a bold confidence that carries notes of Fairport Convention, June Tabor and the old folk tradition, refreshingly unadorned and seemingly effortless. Ward’s voice is then beautifully complemented by the striking, husky vocals of Ben Webb who embodies the forlorn yearning of the soldier with his low, tremulous tones. The two voices come together with mesmerising harmony, accompanied by Ronchetti on perfectly understated guitar and Tom Pryor, who also produced the new album, on soaring and emotive violin. It’s a subtle yet captivating performance and demonstrates the band’s ability to take an old and rarely heard song, give it a fresh lick of paint and turn it into something rather beautiful indeed. Bird in the Belly describe ‘Neighbours and Sisters’ as an ‘uneasy album with more shade than light’ and perhaps an element of that darkness and unrest can be felt in this melancholy tune. However, whilst the themes of the tracks may frequently dwell in the shadows, their reimaginings of these old songs remain utterly beguiling and arresting in their bold rawness. With another strong release under their wing, no doubt 2020 will be an exciting year for Bird in the Belly.