Birds In The Woods - Some Thing Knew Album Review
Review of Birds In The Woods' album Some Thing Knew
Fortunately (Or unfortunately depending on your want) this is not a long lost 'Carry On' film discovered in the bowels of Pinewood studios, or an alternative take on a popular pantomime theme appertaining to babes rather than birds. What we have here is in fact a Boston (Not Lincolnshire UK) based improvisational band by the name of Birds In The Woods. They are the creators and musicians who bring you their debut, full length, album 'Some Thing Knew'. Already released stateside late last year at Berklee's student run, all embracing, Cafe 939 (Sadly not where Minnie met Matt) the 'new' album showcases the bands premium cuts.
Described as "70's fusion meets modern song writing" it could be Master Chef, The Musical. (Thankfully, although if you wait long enough you never know, it's not). Birds In The Woods is ostensibly George Woods vehicle to bring you his own personal blend of imaginative, jazzy, sometime soulful, funk filled songs. In his quest he is very aptly aided and enabled by violin virtuoso, and "partner in crime", Sue Buzzard as well as Tryeek Jackson on bass and Massimo Buonanno doing all things percussion. Add into the mix the obligatory horn section and George's very promising skills as a singer/songwriter and you have all the right ingredients.
'The River' kicks things off nicely with a laid back, NYC jazz club cool of smoke filled, bourbon flavoured, monochrome 50's, atmosphere. A casual shuffle coupled against the yearning vocal of Mr Woods with some near Santana rhythms transport you easily and instantly into the bands back yard. 'Eyes Like Glass' follows but fails to sparkle. Here BITW's try just a little too hard to further push the jazzier credentials of the album. At about half way through they break into an interlude of unnecessary improv. (It doesn't really work terrifically well, other than to give you time to maybe put the kettle on until George decides to return and sing the final few lines of the song). 'Jerry Says', a co-written number with guest vocalist Erica Stenquist, has some great double harmony duets, almost Ben & Tracey meets The Beautiful South. However, 'Some Thing Knew' works best without the funk/fusion/jazz laced additions. On both 'Postcard', an alt/pop song, and 'Rain In D.C.', a slower folksy number, the more conventional approach pays off by giving way to good songs.
The album has plenty of spirit, and a sense of creativity, but doesn't get enough of it right to make it count. George's vocal is at times a thin, strained and asthmatic instrument that comes remarkably close to emulating Sting. The string pieces, whilst well performed and generally befitting the moment, do on occasion lapse into near 'Conservatory Music'. This is probably all part of the game plan by BITW, and fits the brief of a 'fusion' band, but it has to have some coherence to work and 'Some Thing Knew' is at times lacking just that.
The band themselves seem like a nice bunch and invite you to become part of 'The Treehouse Club', because, "We love you guys and want to make you more part of our lives". It's like Friends never finished. You can also follow George and friends on his 'Bird-Blog' (Not anything like you might find in The Sun newspaper!). So if you're curious, and fancy a little Bostonian flavoured fusion, 'Some Thing Knew' is out now.
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