Wallis Bird: Hands – Celebration and spontaneity

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Artist: Wallis Bird
Genre: Singer / Songwriter
Label: Mount Silver Records/Virgin Records

When she was 18 months old, Wallis Bird had an accident with a lawnmower that severed the finger on one hand. Almost four decades later – and with 4½ of them reattached – the Berlin-based Wexford woman has come full circle. Having spent much of her life trying to adapt, Hands embraces what makes her different. Coming off the back of a self-imposed sabbatical (initiated pre-Covid, following the release of 2019's Woman), there is a sense of celebration and spontaneity to her seventh album.

Sweetly sung opener Go, a song about challenging yourself beyond your comfort zone, is a delight; What's Wrong With Changing is a tumultuous, slickly produced number that recounts her political awakening as a teenager, namechecking Panti Bliss, the Afghanistan war and Repeal the 8th; I Lose Myself Completely is a pacey, 1980s-addled synthpop track that nods to A-Ha's Take on Me.

Breakneck eclecticism

In other places, however, the breakneck eclecticism of Bird’s oeuvre is a little disconcerting. She hastily flits between gloopy acoustica to the ravey, electropop rumble of FKK (No Pants Dance), while the reckless key changes make synthy closer Pretty Lies a chaotic affair.

Still, perhaps it’s fitting that this is Bird’s post-pandemic record; it’s both messy and beautiful, both frustrating and endearing – but certainly as uncompromising as you might expect from an artist like Wallis Bird.


Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy is a freelance journalist and broadcaster. She writes about music and the arts for The Irish Times