Seth Glier’s new album, Birds, is steeped in conflict and contradictions. There’s grief and loss, but also strength and resilience; doubt and dismay, but also a sense of optimism as Mr. Glier confronts some heavy topics and wrestles them into the daylight.
Mr. Glier recorded this album in an airy loft in western Massachusetts outfitted with a grand piano and floor-to-ceiling windows. Birds roost just outside those windows, on the roof of the converted mill building where he lives, and they became his sympathetic audience while he made the album. ”I felt a tremendous amount of comfort talking to the birds,” he says ”I’d check in with them regularly to see how they thought things were going so far.”
Birds is Mr. Glier’s fifth album, and the latest entry in a burgeoning career that has included a Grammy nomination and a pair of Independent Music Awards.
The songs on Birds range from personal to political and are bound together by the awareness that our world is a fragile place. He makes that point on a large scale with ”Water on Fire,” a terse, grinding tune that opens with a cynical reworking of a Ray Charles lyric as Mr. Glier uses the issue of fracking to dig into the false equivalence between freedom and capitalism. ”Hasn’t Hit Me Yet” has a more visceral, intimate approach: the soulful slow jam, full of warm guitars and multi-tracked vocals, is about the death of Glier’s autistic brother. It should be noted that heartbreak is tempered by hope in these songs and Mr. Glier is able to make those distinctions in having the scales balance out. “Sunshine” is the first arrow of positivity fired from his musical bow – a bubbly, almost neo-’80’s styled track with synths and programmed rhythm and a simple yet powerful lyric of needing a sign of joy; “People Like Us” is a rollicking number that reminded me (showing my age, yet again) of Gilbert O’Sullivan’s earliest work and is a standout and “Hasn’t Hit Me Yet”, presumably, is an open/direct letter to his now-gone brother – musically soothing (listen to that middle break) but lyrically poignant and moving.
Over a five album career, Seth Glier has hit his stride with this particular collection. Sometimes pain is the great motivator and for what it’s worth, Mr. Glier has shared his sadness willingly and openly. And by doing so, he’s managed to bring warmth to what are coldly uncomfortable range of emotions.
Birds will be released on Friday, August 25th, 2017