Little Birdy – Big Big Love

Little Birdy are yet another Australian band signed to John Watson’s label, Eleven Records. Eleven’s roster of artists is pretty much the who’s who of young Australian artists. Eleven’s charges include Missy Higgins, Silverchair, The Dissociatives and Paul Mac. Eleven is John Watson’s second record label, he was also responsible for Murmur who originally signed silverchair, Ammonia, Jebediah, amongst others. He has a nose for talent and has certainly picked well, Little Birdy are no exception.

Little Birdy hail from the wonderful place west of Adelaide, Perth. Lead singer Katy Steele is Luke Steele from The Sleepy Jackson’s younger sister: one talented little family. Triple J launched them towards stardom when their first EP was picked up and stuck on fairly high rotation with two tracks from it reached the Hottest 100 that year. A second EP This Is A Love Song, the single from that appears on the bonus disc packaged with this album, cemented their place on the Australian music scene. Their recorded material has been backed up by sold out shows across the country, and between a headlining tour and a support slot with label mates The Dissociatives the band spent some time in Sydney recording their debut album Big Big Love.

Opening with radio favourite I’m Excited, with its indie guitar groove and Steele’s wrought singing style, it sets the tone well for the rest of the album. My only qualms with Little Birdy lies with Steele’s vocals, there are times when she sounds a lot like the chick from Leonardo’s Bride, but the band’s distinctive musical style helps to differentiate them from the sappy pop of the nineties which sold so well.

Come On Little Heart Breaker continues the groove, but slows it down a bit, to somewhat more of a ballad. Beautiful to Me has a country groove that infects brother Luke’s work with his side project Nations By The River. It’s a great laid back little tune, with its pedal steel and brush percussion, which includes a shaker of bells.

Losing You is one of the standout tracks on this album, it rocks out a bit more, with a bigger guitar sound and meatier drumming. Steele’s vocal style has been compared to artists like Kate Bush and Cat Power and here she starts to show her range. Like Missy Higgins she sings with such a broad Australian accent, an accent that brings a smile to this listener. Perhaps this may be a both a help and hindrance to Little Birdy when it comes to international success? The accent/vocal style signifies them as different, but I can’t help thinking that as its unfamiliar it may not sit well with parts of the audience. We’ll have to wait and see.

On Forever the band bring out one of my favourite instruments, the Hammond organ. The organ matches in really well with Steele’s vocals, and combined with the electric pedal steel it’s a magnificent instrument. Close to You commences with an almost two minute instrumental, showcasing the talent of the musicians in this band. As with a lot of the music on this album, its quite solemn, and even the guitar solos with Steele’s choral backing feel chilling.

It’s a Rule for You All begins with an organ line that would not be out of place on The Bees’ Free the Bees. It’s again a very simple song with no percussion, only the simple organ as accompaniment. We conclude with Andy Warhol. Throughout the song Warhol is not once mentioned by name, which leads me to one of two conclusions, either its about the artist sound from his lovers perspective, or it was a convenient title for the song. It, like all of the songs on the album, shows the strength of the band.

Of most interest will be the follow up to this album. Whilst starting strongly on Big Big Love, Little Birdy still have room to tighten up and grow. The have the potential to grow into something really strong and beautiful.