“The Flight of Birds” is the new release from Barry Peters - his debut album in the acoutic/light rock genre. This is an important new album from a prolific Australian songwriter tense with impact and insight into the issues of today.
A Review - The Flight of Birds by Barry Peters & Gaberdine
André Jenkins – Sydney, Australia
24th May, 2006
The music of Barry Peters is passionate, humane and unequivocally spiritual. While previously, Barry has focused his considerable creative energy on his Canya Dantz project for young children, the new direction taken with The Flight of Birds (2006) has imposed a different set of artistic demands and priorities: writing for an adult contemporary audience.
The Flight of Birds opens with This is Not My River, a song comparing the seeming eternal time span of the earth with our brief common stewardship of it: “Walk where footprints wash away/ Just another ten thousand years.” It ends with The Brolgas Dance, a song about the power of trust and place of love: “Partner, family every nation/Friendship linking all creation.” In between are stories of social justice, commentary on contemporary affairs (deaths in custody, asylum seeking) and a wonderful personal chronicle of a man’s search for his soul mate and the desperate adventure of love. The title track The Flight of Birds describes a heartfelt yearning for a new context free of the weight and baggage of the present context, but acknowledges that at the end of the day, we inhabit this context and its issues and it is here that we must do our work. Ironic then, that these very songs may enable the transcendence so yearned for.
I spoke briefly with Barry about the songs and their origins and the desire to record them. He told me the source of the material flows from personal contact with the indigenous, dispossessed and exiled peoples of this and other lands, and profound concerns about our nation’s direction. “Nearly every time I sang these songs, audiences were touched and so I wanted to make the best possible recording of them and then make that available.” But Barry has done more than merely make available his work, there is an openness and universality about his poetry that invites a listener to weave Barry’s stories with their own stories and reflect again from a re-newed perspective.
Barry writes from a singer-songwriter tradition, but artistic vision behind The Flight of Birds required a skilled band to push his music to a new level. Many artists contributed to recording the album, but Barry's live band Gaberdine (Gemma Belfrage, Angus Macpherson and Andrew Hallett) accompanied Barry on most tracks, working in perfect sympathy with him. They are exceptional musicians, whose
excellence can be measured in no small part by their ability to embellish and lift the musical vision without ever detracting from the singer or his songs.
Comparisons frequently serve to polarise, and so are often less than helpful, but if you are unfamiliar with Barry’s work and need to place his star in the pantheon of the known, then it probably lies somewhere near the passionate, humane and socially conscious work of Billy Bragg, the laconic ‘tough love’ for this country and its peoples of Shane Howard or Eric Bogle, and on at least one track, invokes a rambling story-telling style that hints of an ancient orbit past Dylan. Like the bright stars near him, Barry’s work will reward many a careful listening, because at the end of the day, Barry is a poet with distinctive perspective on life, a moving vision of how we might live it and an unshakable faith in the power of love, compassion and dignity to transform it for ourselves and others. Barry assures me that there are more adult and children’s projects on the way, so I’m eagerly awaiting the next chapter in this unique and spiritual journey.