Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Amy Birks Bears Her Soul

Award-winning vocalist/songwriter and member of The Beatrix Players, Amy Birks’ sophomore solo album, the 12-song strong In Our Souls, is available now, as is the second single taken from it, ‘Brothers’.

In Our Souls represents Birks’ second time around as both a producer and mixing engineer. She recalled the process as being “A time of solitude, of many a late night, exploring ideas and losing myself in the books and poetry of the Bronte’s and my own personal journey over the past few years, developing my ears, skills and confidence as a composer. My first record, All That I Am & All That I Was, was very much about deeply personal experiences but with this album, I wanted to extract more strength and feeling from the musical palette and have more fun with it, which has enabled me to step back a little from the lyrics and put more faith in my ability to write not only songs but pieces of music.”

For the new album, Birks extended her knowledge regarding them and their personal musical leanings through several trips to the Pennine village and the Haworth Parsonage where they lived, prior to selecting poems that would provide inspiration for the album, with three being set to music.

“I did English literature at college,” Birks said in a recent issue of PROG magazine, “And I’ve always had a fascination with the Brontes, I thought, ‘Well, Kate Bush has done Wuthering Heights so I’m not going to touch the novels, but what about the poetry?’ So, I went through them and landed on three that I loved, one from each sister.”

The title track of the album was released as a single this February gone, and drew upon Charlotte Bronte’s poem ’In Our Souls’. ‘A Death Scene’ was inspired by a work by Emily Bronte, while ‘The Dream’ comes from Anne Bronte. 

“Anne was into vocal music,” Birks expounded, ‘so I kept ‘The Dream’ more like a singer-songwriter piece. Emily was quite passionate and dark, she was into Beethoven and Liszt, so I pushed the piano to the forefront on that, I found their words went very well with the sort of melodies I write.” 

In Our Souls, features Helena Dove and Tom Manning, two co-writers from the original line-up of the award-winning Beatrix Players. Manning also composed and played all the guitar parts on the album, with other featured musicians including a returning John Hackett on flute, and introducing violinist Frank Van Essen and cellist Clare O’Connell, on what has been described as “a virtuosic line-up”.

In Our Souls is available digitally now, as is a limited edition of 500 copies for fans of vinyl and CD, that combines a 140g black vinyl pressing in a gatefold sleeve with a compact disc.

Regarding the new single, ‘Brothers’, Birks explained; “I have two estranged brothers and those tumultuous relationships have been the subject, or at least the undercurrent of many a song. For whatever reason, we have never seen eye to eye, hence the opening words of ‘I don’t understand why. Do you? Do you know why?’ and the build-up of aggression through the instrumentation. This, I suppose, is my therapy.”

Without a doubt the most personal track on the album, you can check out the video for ‘Brothers’ here at RAMzine.

In Our Souls was launched by a full band performance at Stoke Town Hall, with two subsequent performances as a trio, and on 1st October Amy Birks will be appearing in a duo arrangement when she opens for the John Hackett Band at The Forum, in Darlington. You can also check out her music at Bandcamp, by clicking here.

Paul H Birch
Paul H Birch
RAMzine Senior Writer - Writer of fiction, faction and fact, has edited several newsstand magazines. He declares himself a hack for hire but refuses to compromise on the subject of music.

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