Wallis Bird certainly had things to say on her five previous albums. But with the new Woman — out Sept. 27 and premiering exclusively below on Billboard today (Sept. 25) — the Irish singer-songwriter has been inspired by the tenor of the times to step out and add her voice to social and political issues.
"It's sort of a gentle push, really," Bird tells Billboard. "I don't like to shock people. I came up a young gay girl in Catholic Ireland, so the last thing I ever wanted to do was draw attention to myself. But, with this record I feel like I've got nothing to lose and everything to gain by talking about what's happening in 2019 — and coming at it from a woman’s perspective."
On the 11-track set, co-produced with regular collaborator Marcus Wust, Bird addresses subjects such as the #metoo and Black Lives Matter movements, climate change, the repeal of Ireland's constitutional amendment banning abortion, and marriage equality initiatives in Australia.
"The #MeToo movement really shook me up," Bird says. "I've been affected by it as well. You have to get over the shame and embarrassment and you have to be angry and say, 'I've been affected by it as well.' I don't like being angry, but that was hard."
Bird, in fact, views Woman as a brand new phase in her songwriting. “I never spent so much time crafting lyrics or doodling on the instrumentation. I feel like this is a whole new range from where I was,” she says. “I suppose I just put in the hours, and it seems to have brought a new depth."
Sonically more polished than her previous work, by design, she views the finished product as a 36-minute long song. “Each song has remnants of the last song in it. It was a very interesting process,” she says. “It feels like starting songwriting all over again — not reinventing the fucking wheel, but it feels good."
After a summer tour in the U.S., Bird will spend the fall and early winter in Europe. The latter will build on the one-woman show Bird presented during the summer, with Bird playing 10 instruments and working with loops and special sound design for the shows.
"It's basically me as almost a vessel to try and push out as much as possible," Bird says. "We've got two sound engineers, one working on the effects we've all designed together and one working purely on sound. We all feed off each other, and there's this huge, beautiful, interesting sound coming about, using my body as a tap dance beast — two arms, two legs, head butt on the piano if I can. I'm trying to have as much fun by being as creative with this sound as possible. It feels like there's a lot of extra intention that I didn't do before. I feel like I've finally come into my own with this."
Listen to Woman in its entirety below.