laura baird I Wish I Were a Sparrow (LP, £22.25)label: Ba Da Bing!
With a musical timeline dating back to her early childhood, Laura Baird is an exceptionally talented multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter, best known for her projects with her sister, Meg, as The Baird Sisters, and guitarist Glenn Jones. Baird’s own sound stems from the Appalachian folk tradition, and she connects to it via family lineage—her great-great uncle I.G. Greer’s folk recordings for the Library of Congress are a large influence. Also woven in are classical composers like Bach and Satie, and modern day musicians such as Opal and Yo La Tengo. With this debut solo album, I Wish I Were A Sparrow, Baird plays odes to the traditions from which she learned, combining Appalachian balladry and the roughness of old field recordings, but there is also a dose of dreaminess and solitude that captures sleepy central New Jersey. This is where she departs from tradition, leaving the communal origins of folk music to capture the singular self. The lyrics also present an amalgam of old and new, with half of the songs, including “Dreadful Wind and Rain” and “Pretty Polly,” being passed down from the folk tradition, and the other half, including “Wind Wind “and “Love Song From The Earth To The Moon,” coming from Baird’s own hand. While the most salient part of her previous Baird Sisters project was the melding of familial voices and various instruments, Baird’s solo effort is centred around the combination of her virtuosic banjo playing and prominent but airy vocals. Baird Sisters Until You Find Your Green. Tracks: 1. Wind, Wind 2. Dreadful Wind And Rain 3. Cuckoo 4. Love Song From The Earth To The Moon 5. Pretty Saro 6. Bats 7. Did You Come Here Alone? 8. Pretty Polly 9. Hay In The Wagon 10. Home Is Were You Are 11. Poor Orphan Child 12. Twin Sisters
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