CD Born Free Forever (CD 910337),
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Born Free Forever
1. Born Free
2. So the Blood
3. All Right
4. Fear, The
5. All Right (Reprise) - (Reprise)
6. Demon Heart
8. Here I Am, All Brokenhearted
9. I Said, "Ok", The Wind Said, "No! "
10. I Hope/I Grow
11. Flood/The Blood, The
12. I Have But to Know What I Want
13. Something Inside, The
14. O Come On
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 38
Bobby Birdman: Rob Kieswetter.
Additional personnel: Zak Rile (vocals, banjo); Abra Aneliffe (vocals); Kyle Field (cello).
Personnel: Zak Riles (vocals, banjo); Kyle Field (vocals); Jordan Hudson (cello).
Recording information: Beckerhaus, NY (2001-2002); Birdnest, PDX (2001-2002).
On his second album, Born Free Forever, Bobby Birdman continues to mix searching, acoustic-based songs with experimental and electronic touches, resulting in a sound that owes as much to bands like Smog and the Radar Brothers as it does to Radiohead and the Flaming Lips. Actually, the closest comparison may be a more polished, technologically advanced Microphones, which makes sense since Birdman (aka Rob Kieswetter) has worked with Microphones contributor and Little Wings leader Kyle Field, and he also hails from the Pacific Northwest, which seems to have a prolific amount of these soul-searching artists. Born Free Forever's first five songs -- "Born Free," "So the Blood," "All Right," "The Fear," and "All Right (Reprise)" -- have a suite-like feel to them, akin to the Microphones' Mt. Eerie in its spooky, massed sounds and themes of vulnerability and mortality. Unlike most of his influences, however, Birdman favors a clean, almost poppy production that emphasizes his dulcet voice and the intricate sonics surrounding it. While this makes the album more immediately palatable, it tends to put a little distance between the listener and the feelings in the music; it takes a few listens to pick up on emotionally raw lyrics like "tonight I drew first blood/I couldn't stop the flow," from "I Said, 'OK,' The Wind Said 'No!'" There's no question that Birdman's music is genuinely moving, though, as the soaring, spine-tingling harmonies on "Fire"; the dreamy electro-hymn "Demon Heart"; and the lovely "I Have but to Know What I Want," where he exclaims, "I want to know, not just to have known/I want to peel away and show the sheen." Bobby Birdman's very name sounds like a child's idea of a superhero, and there's a similarly nave yet deep yearning in the music that contrasts interestingly with some of Born Free Forever's more experimental moments. "The Flood/The Blood" mixes a loop of cut-up, doo wop-influenced backing vocals with a light, skittering beat and luminous synths; "Here I Am, All Brokenhearted" sends up the album's often self-deprecating tone with a grandiose, orchestral arrangement; "O Come On" mixes telegraph-like synths, banjos, acoustic guitars, and backward sounds into a strangely celebratory finish to the album. A huge leap forward from Let Me In, Born Free Forever is a delicate, challenging album, and all the more rewarding for those very reasons. ~ Heather Phares
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Hush Records (Portland) 38
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