The greatest songwriters in pop / rock history invariably are compared to poets. Still Lost Bird Music (the pop project of composer Simon Fink) decided to take things one step further, drawing on centuries of public-domain poetry for the lyrics to his latest album, August. While the album continues in the rich pop vein of Still Lost Bird Music's debut, Sargent Egyptian Girl, it also includes a number of folk elements: banjos, fiddles, and acoustic guitars people the album throughout, giving it a pastoral foundation that melds with the poetic lyrics.
August, like SLBM's debut, is full of gorgeous pop backdrops for Fink's voice. In the brief opener, "Storm," the echo-y vocals come out of a gauzy haze of acoustic guitar and organ. "Nightfall" is a slow, spare pop gem, with jangly guitar over chimes and the gentle beat of a bass and snare drum. "Luke Havergal" is set against a twangy backdrop of banjo and mouth harp. "A Garden By the Sea," maybe the album's best track, is a dark tune accentuated by a snaking electric guitar riff and an explosive harmonica solo. At its worst moments, the music and words conspire to indulgence; "The Stolen Child" sounds like it was pulled from a musical, and the melodrama of "Intrigue" is a bit overwrought. But at its best, August is like nothing else. "Lament For the Makers" is a super-catchy pop tune with a chorus in Latin; who does that?
August is unique and challenging, but it's still a beautiful and engaging listen. Not every track is a home run, but it's amazing that a project like this worked, and produced one of the best albums of 2011.
Still Lost Bird Music official site