Drumming Bird delivers on new EP, Katrina Barclay sings with assurance
Trees On Fire
Austin Sawyer is a confident songwriter. Before releasing the Trees On Fire EP, the Sawyer-lead Drumming Bird teased the release with the leading track, “Take the Tiger Home”, a song about youth, love and uncertainty set in West Tennessee.
It has nice guitar playing in the bridge, well-written harmonies in the interludes and all-in-all is a solid pop song disguised as a rock song. It shows off Sawyer’s songwriter skills and is a very impressive start to a very well put together compilation.
A lot of Trees On Fire is about youth and the people that come in and out of your life as a young person. In “Blue Hole,” a track that is slick in production and assured in the style of a break-up song with a deeper, less optimistic message. “Your face is like goodbye one letter at a time,” Sawyer sings, as if writing the one letter that he swore he couldn’t to an ex-lover. He writes about cold love and warm hearts, kid stuff, but he sings like he means it and you can’t help but listen along accordingly.
Another standout is “The Hair On My Head,” where Sawyer sings about love once again, repeating over and over that it’s “hard to let you go.” And whether he’s referencing the blood in his veins, brain in his skull or the heart in his chest, he makes sure to lay out a dramatic note once again to get a simple message across.
The EP concludes with a very mature “Trees On Fire,” a mostly instrumental track that is subtly concluded with the question of when the narrator will learn, when he’ll decide to walk away from the destruction, and the guitar-heavy “Pictures Are Important,” about love lost in Alabama, opportunity lost in New York City and longing for something you can’t quite hold anymore.
Katrina Barclay listens to good music. I don’t know her personally, have never met her and didn’t know about her until days ago. But after listening to her 12-track album, Element, one thing is clear: Katrina Barclay listens to good music. Because in order to write such good, and in most places great, songs, you have to have templates, inspiration, and something to strive for.
Artists like Kristin Diable, The Civil Wars, and even Ryan Adams come to mind when listening to this confident, experienced and thoughtful songwriter. The production is incredibly satisfying, stripped down when it needs to be and layered frequently when it only enhances the intricacies of the words and the guitar playing.
The first thing a listener notices is her voice. Barclay has a strong, self-assured, very controlled voice and knows how to use it while writing a song. She could ring off quick lyrics like she does in the title-track or give herself to long winded melodies like in the outstanding “Ifs and Maybes,” which has heavy, bluesy guitar tones.
“Know Better” starts the album off with a should I stay or go type situation where the narrator battles with her situation in the classic “I don’t need you but I want you.” In “Explosions In The Sky,” she relates all of our insecurities and hidden gems as fires and storms in our soul, all hiding inside, waiting to ignite.
The album’s highlight (and let’s be clear, there are many) certainly has to be “Coward”. A sharp and clever tune about her own confidence and intellect in the life of love. Barclay constantly reinvents her point-of-view over all the 12 songs.
Whether it’s from a confident state like “Consider the Raven,” or on the flip side in “Crush,” where she asks “Should I leave or say please?” Element is a delightful album from a mostly unknown. If she keeps this up, unknown is a description that she can certainly leave in her rearview.