Sam Buckingham - I'm a Bird

Sam Buckingham - I'm a Bird

Sam Buckingham is a Sydney singer-songwriter who crafts acoustic pop similar to Sarah Blasko or Lisa Mitchell. Her stunning sophomore album, I'm a Bird, features a good ratio of love songs to break-up songs. Known as a pioneer of the House Concert touring model, Buckingham has played almost 100 homes from her strong fan-base, and funded the album in part through crowd funding. I'm a Bird reflects not only this process of travel and discovery, but the joy and heartbreak of falling in and out of love.

The self-titled, opening track on I'm a Bird begins with a faint beeping sound, cycling around in a steady pattern, like a lighthouse's beam, or circling seagulls. It's a fitting touch for the song, which expresses the mandatory isolation or distance required after unrequited love. "I'm a bird, so I don't know you at all," Buckingham insists, trying to find solitude and rise above the heartbreak of an uneven exchange of feelings.

'Follow You' is an about-face into a tinkly love song. "Anything you want, I want it too," a nervous but committed Buckingham sings. The glockenspiel that accompanies the song keeps its sentiment steered towards optimistic giddiness, but the instrumentation has the song feeling too breezy to be memorable. Likewise, 'Oh, Bahbo' has ukulele and whistling that seem like shading added for colour rather than for the shaping of song. Both these songs, along with 'Consider Me' and 'I'm a Bird', suffer this fate.

'Hit Me With Your Heart' however, has rich and dark western guitar lines underlying the chorus, and a choir joining Buckingham for the last refrain. Buckingham sounds like she is backed by her own Bad Seeds. 'Leave This Town' shares the theme of 'I'm a Bird', and features a fuller sound. 'So Much Loving Left To Do' stands tall on its piano ballad songwriting, as Buckingham sounds like a shy Dusty Springfield. Banjo and a beautiful vocal melody float underneath the chorus. The sweet 'Mountain Sun' also benefits from some plodding trombone, adding much-needed colour to the emotional spectrum.

In 500 Days of Summer, Chloe Grace Moretz says, "Just because she likes the same bizarro crap as you doesn't mean she's your soul mate." 'Shackles', an acoustic track that needs no further instrumentation for its message, shares this theme. "It's harder than it seems to love someone with all your dreams, 'cause if we're not the same where do we start?" Buckingham asks, referring to the untraceable roots of attraction that can sometimes leave like-minded people bewildered and out of love.

Waterfalls and roller-skates feature in the lyrics of 'Simple', and to continue the analogy, are kitschier than the 500 Days of Summer scene where Joseph Gordon-Levitt skips along to Hall & Oats. Depending on your enjoyment of the song, it either runs of out steam, or is mercifully short. 'Tomorrow I'll Wear Black' is an acappella arrangement that doesn't mirror the songwriting's rising excitement. 'Down The Rabbit Hole' has some nice accordion, but it arrives late. It also sounds the most like a Lisa Mitchell song on the album.

As a whole, Buckingham manages to spin I'm a Bird into a balanced mix of sweet and bittersweet songs; there are songs about traveling and songs about settling down. By far the most memorable and touching songs are the songs of resigned departure. While these songs always feature a break-up, the next town is only a short distance away. A bird could even fly there.

Listen to a live performance of 'Hit Me With Your Heart' below:

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