Written by Laura Dodero, posted by blog admin
Black Bluebirds, coming out of the Minneapolis area, prove they are expert at pouring old wine into new glasses thanks to their invigorating mix of adult and highly personal themes with traditional musical structures handled with more than the usual amount of skill. The ten song Like Blood for Music is never formulaic – instead, Black Bluebirds prove themselves to be orchestrating textures and mood in such a way no two songs sound exactly alike while each maintain an individuality helping to make this an unified experience from the first to the last. Keyboardist, singer, and songwriter Daniel Fiskum definitely emerges from this album as being a truly formidable talent, but Black Bluebirds is far more than some sort of glorified solo project. Instead, guitarist Simon Husbands and drummer Chad Helmonds bring a great deal to the table. There are other important contributors outside the three piece, particularly guest vocalist Jessica Rasche, and their additions to the album make it all the more powerful of an experience.
If Like Blood for Music were an academic exercise of some sort, the opener “Love Kills Slowly” would be the album’s thesis of a sort – it lays out much of the same thematic path Black Bluebirds follow over the course of the album’s remaining nine songs. It might prove to be a bit deceptive for some listeners. They lay out a distinctly hard rock course with this tune and, while echoes of this approach abound throughout the band’s music, it isn’t a defining aspect of what they do, but rather part. Daniel Fiskum’s lyrics are ideally suited to a musical setting and show obvious care, but he has an intelligent flair to each of the album’s ten lyrics that few writers in this vein can boast.
Later songs like “Strange Attractor” and “Battlehammer” are, arguably, closest in musical approach to what we hear with the opener, but there’s never any sense of the band repeating themselves. Much of Like Blood for Music is devoted to more cinematically minded pieces like “Life in White”, “My Eyes Were Closed”, and “House of No More Dreams”. The second and third of those songs, in particular, are obviously keyed to be the album’s showpieces in this regard and show how adeptly the band mixes the dissonant hard rock edge in their music with more near orchestral approaches. The diversity is carefully modulated and never sounds too far afield of the band’s initial impulse and it’s equally praiseworthy how the three piece can make very adult themes accessible for even those who haven’t experienced such things. The hard rock edge is often present in Black Bluebirds music but, even when it isn’t, there’s the same sort of intensity brought to bear we readily associate with that sort of sound. Like Blood for Music is one of the best offerings in this style I’ve heard in quite some time and opens up the future nicely for this band going forward from here.