Lawry Tilbury III aka Birdengine has a small red label that dangles from his guitar with the word ‘Happy’ inscribed on it. I now know that ‘Happy’ is the name of his guitar. Not that you can label his music, so maybe it’s doubly ironic.
Brighton-based Birdengine hasn’t been playing live much of late so it was a real treat to find him and Happy in the tiny Komedia Studio Bar, supporting the American touring songsmith Samantha Crain for a Melting Vinyl gig.
It’s hard to believe it’s been two and a half years since the The Crooked Mile was released, one of the best albums to emerge from the psych-folk scene. Not a happy record, it’s full-to-the-brim with melancholy imaginative gothic folk tunes, from which the sublime Ghost Club was a stand-out tonight. We were also treated to the stunning Heads off Dogs from his first album released on Drift records, and a number of new songs involving increasing use of a loop pedal which helps add a fuller sound to the trademark Birdengine pluck and strum. We were also treated to a charming jazz interlude thanks to the previous owner of one of the Birdengine guitar pedals, with Lawry’s usual hesitant interaction with the audience forming a kind of obscure sub-genre of rapping. Maybe.
It was good to see Lawry back in action, and a new album will hopefully start to emerge shortly.
Samantha Crain is touring to promote her new album Kid Face, which is well worth exploring – one of three excellent female songwriter’s albums released over the last month and which I’ve been enjoying this week (see also New Yorker Nicole Atkins’ excellent Slow Phaser and Brightonian Sharon Lewis’ classy Roses at the Top, more of which some other time). The small studio bar made for a lovely intimate venue and hopefully Melting Vinyl will use it more.
Photos and words by Jon Southcoasting