I interviewed Eve Searls about her debut album under the name Bird and Flower about a month ago. I had intended to publish the article before the release party later that week. Oops.
A cool, rainy July day: seated in my favorite coffee shop in the oldest part of Columbus, I can think of no better conditions than these under which to sit and talk music with a songwriter I respect. The day is shaping up nicely and things look promising (and I rarely feel this way). But, while the cappuccino at Cup O’ Joe in German Village is as good as any you will find in the city, the tables are also unsteady. One misjudged foot placement, and my lap is soaked through with coffee, the table draped with napkins to ward off future spills, and I am considerably less cool than I was ten minutes ago (ah, normalcy…). And yet, Eve Searls of Bird and Flower is still willing to meet with me. Wow.
But this should come as no surprise. Here We Cease Our Motion, Bird and Flower’s debut LP, is not about the manufactured image. It’s about normal things – things like “being dumped, trying to be more independent, and trying to be happy even when you’re feeling bleak and hopeless”. And the frankness of the record is even more poignant when you consider that Eve, who has been writing songs for ten years, has only recently found the confidence to play them in front of people.
“I got a guitar for Christmas when I was seventeen and I just started writing songs for myself. I couldn’t play them for anyone, not even my family. I was terrified of playing in front of anyone else. So I got a four track a year later and I started recording. Just basic folksy, singer-songwriter stuff,” she assures me, taking a sip of unsweetened iced tea.
So what happened? Among other things, Garage Band.
“[Garage Band] had samples on it. And that’s how I started writing dance songs. “That’s the Ticket” is the first song I did on Garage Band. And I just used three samples, a bird tweeting, a beat, and a banjo and the song just came from there.”
Which is not to say that her folksy side has been left in the past. Far from it: “I feel like I’ve split into two people where I really like fun dance music and I like sad, earth-shattering folk music”. And that swirling atmosphere is clear throughout the record, not only in the disparate styles represented, but even in the seemingly conflicting lyrical and musical sentiments depicted within the context of even a single song.
“Even the fun sounding songs are kind of dark and sad underneath. They’re about really simple things like rejection. Hot Boots has some abandonment issues. And I don’t know if people notice, and they don’t really have to. As long as it’s fun, that’s fine with me. But there really is some darkness in the lyrics that kind of underlines the fun sample stuff.” This is, by no means, unheard of. The Cardigans pulled it off brilliantly with “Lovefool”, which remains one of the greatest works of songwriting dexterity I have ever heard. Here We Cease Our Motion may not quite reach such epic status in my book yet, but Bird and Flower are off to a good start.
Among the highlights for me are, of course, “Hot Boots”, and lead track “Dark Thoughts” (“Take it from me, there’s a possibility / that those you love don’t give a shit about you”….Like she said, it’s a bit dark). Then there’s “Jump Out of the Way”, which some will recognize from Super Desserts’ Barefoot in the Disenchanted Forest, even though this version is something entirely new, insomuch as it is the oldest incarnation of the song. But “The Healing Service”, the closing track has been the standout for me from the moment I first heard it. Essentially entirely a cappella, it could very easily have been lifted from the O’ Brother soundtrack and is instantly intoxicating. As the voices fade into the sound of rolling thunder and eventually silence, the listener is left to contemplate the lyrics: “I started my own religion, didn’t need to get a degree. / I made up my own religion through pain and sympathy / It involves a group of people who never drift apart / and though the pain they feel is their own, they feel it through one heart.”
The album is out now, but only on vinyl and download. I, for one, would encourage you to buy a hard copy, and I think Eve would agree. ”
I get really excited about the product, the object itself as a craft object. So when I make my CDs I hand print the covers of the CD and I like for people, if they actually buy something from me, that it be like a cool thing they can have. And I feel it’s the same way with vinyl. It’s huge; the art is a lot easier to look at; it sounds really good…” However, if you’re the kind of person who actually likes to know what they are buying before paying for it, you can still stream the entire thing here.