Feature 149: Wallis Bird

© Tobias Ortmann

Diesen Freitag erscheint das siebte Studioalbum der irischen Musikerin und Wahlberlinerin Wallis Bird. „Hands“ heißt die Platte, die eine persönliche Geschichte erzählt. 

Wallis Bird verlor als Kind bei einem Unfall mit einem Rasenmäher alle Finger ihrer linken Hand. Vier konnten glücklicherweise wieder angenäht werden. Dennoch beeinflusste dieser dramatische Vorfall ihr Leben und ihre Kunst. Das Gitarrenspielen musste sie sich völlig neu und auf eigene Weise drauf schaffen. Ein Satz, dessen Bedeutung man wahrhaftig sehen kann: Zum Beispiel wenn man Wallis auf der Bühne sieht, wie sie ihre Rechtshänder-Gitarre quasi verkehrtherum spielt und damit auch musikalische eine sehr eigene Note in ihre leidenschaftliches Spiel bringt. Eine Geschichte, die dann wiederum direkt zum Titel der Platte führt.

„‘Hands‘ ist schon als Wort unfassbar stark. Weil Hände Sicherheit vermitteln, aber auch Gewalt zufügen können. Hände ermöglichen Sinneswahrnehmungen, die mit zu den schönsten gehören, die man erleben kann, zum Beispiel, wenn man einem geliebten Menschen durch die Haare streicht. Zum ersten Mal Dinge bei der Produktion aus der Hand gegeben zu haben – das ist eine weitere Bedeutungsebene, die erst Wochen später zu mir kam.“

„Hands“ ist weniger Folk und Soul, als die Vorgänger „Home“ (2016) und „WOMAN“ (2019). Die Songs vermitteln eine riesige Experimentierfreude. Synthies, Beats und Klicks klingen mal nach düsterem 80er Pop, mal nach Hot Chips Disco-Bangern. Mit dem Album geht Wallis Bird den nächsten Schritt auf der Suche nach ihrem ganz eigenen Sound und öffnet dabei wieder die Tür zu ihrem Innersten. Wie gut, dass wir daran teilhaben können. 

Wallis Bird verrät uns heute ihre traurigsten Lieblingssongs.  


Ani Difranco – Dilate

Your first break up is unbelievably painful because you’ve never known that hurt before. the feelingas are so confusing, especially becasue my love was in secret and I felt completely alone. This was a song about Ani’s queer relationship, and I finally felt understood. I used this song to wade through the snotty bursting into tears months long heartbreak fog! Poor 18 year old me! Listening to it now makes me quiet, it’s a song I only crack out when I’m feeling stable enough to appreciate it!

George Michael – I can’t make you love me

Lord, another breakup song! This one hit me because the breakup was adult and the feelings were more complex. This song is filled with an a sad, sad adult heart. The clarity and wisdom of George’s voice gives hope by allowing you to feel like complete shit, sophisticatedly.

Sandy Denny – Who knows where the time goes by 

My best pal Aidan Floatinghome does a beautiful version of this and it just floors the room. We’re so rarely given time in music, this song makes you reflect deeply and it’s not always a good thing!

Sam Vance-Law – Too Soon

I never want this song to end. The coolness of this track’s warm jazz instrumentation and Sam’s lyrics about apathy in a relationshit is collected and focused wallowing. The production knows exactly what it’s doing, it takes you by hand into a room, and then slams you in there alone to finally bawl. I guess all my heartache songs are related to beauty, because the ‚real‘ person resides there. The vulnerability is beyond control and is a rare window into the real soul, and I find that beautiful.

Richard Thompson – Beeswing

Top 5 songs ever written. Fucking tragic and so private. A wonderful story of a working man fallen in love with a breathtaking gypsy who warns him that she loves him but will not be made settle. They live hard and their partnership develops- he instigates a future with her; land and a family, but this strains her innate freedom. They begin to slip into an alcoholic abusive relationship, and years later he sees her from afar – a married and settled-by-force shadow of her former wild and beautiful glory, fuck me when he sings about how timeless and special she was, she is immortalised. 

Villagers – The Meaning Of The Ritual

(this version from the ‘Hollow Kind’ EP. It’s hard to find, so here’s a live version) Villagers – The Meaning of the Ritual (Live at The Button Factory 17May10) 

The lyrics „My love is selfish… and I bet that yours is too“ is really all you need to know about this song. It is delicate and so loud at the same time. It builds up into a fragiler nothingness and your left worse off than before you heard it because now you have to deal with the fact that life might actually make no sense at fucking ALL. Thanks Conor! 

Sophie Jameson – Exit

A really really sad song about the writer meeting her ex at a mutual friends concert and she gets fucked up and he takes care of her enough to see her home safely, just enough to care „just another human you wouldn’t negate“ but it’s just residual duty to care, not companionship. It’s so painful to imagine, here she is a hot mess in the arms of someone who has simply moved on. 

Elbow – My Very Best By 

This song is about bowing out graciously and being thankful for the memories of a relationship that he fucked up. Only a truly good person can write a song like this. I find it to be a great teacher of a song, specifically to men. He fucked up and he knows he has to put his ego under the spotlight. A song for the ages, so deftly orchestral and consuming yet releasing.

Björk – Stone Milker

Documenting your breakup in realitime through a song is something I’ve never heard of before and that’s exactly why Björk is a contemporary genius. 

Tori Amos – Baker Baker

It’s just a sad and gentle and beautiful and shit private goodbye song. Stories and phrases only they would know about, but so tenderly written and performed that you know a deep respect was there between them, and now it’s there for posterity. There’s also a flippancy to the ending that you wonder are they friends to this day or did they just move on. A wonderful cliffhanger!