LCM ALBUM OF THE WEEK
NOUS - DIANE BIRCH
Release date: 23rd February, 2016
Genre: Singer-Songwriter, Soul, Gospel, Classical
Location: Brooklyn USA and Berlin, Germany
Record Label: Independent
'Nous' is the excellent new 7-track mini album from one of our favourite singer-songwriters, Diane Birch. It was self produced and recorded at the end of last year at Vox-Ton Studios, Joy Sound, and Hymnpatia in Berlin, Germany. This is currently one of our favourite mini-albums/EP's of the year and it's only March. It is quite simply a stunningly beautiful, intense and classy collection of music. Wow!! An instant classic.
The album title comes from a Greek word meaning "mind" or "intellect". But more commonly meaning "common sense*
Vocals and piano were for the most part recorded and engineered at Vox-Ton Studios in Berlin by Antonio Pulli, with results that are clear, rich, and detailed. Played by Max Weissenfeldt, drums were recorded by Benjamin Spitzmeuller at Joy Sound Studio in Berlin; Spitzmeuller also recorded the wind section that appears in one song, some percussion, and also did some mixing. Fine mastering work, by Nene Baratto, at Big Snuff Studio in Berlin, with Baratto also doing some mixing. There are a few other contributions. On one track, fine strings were arranged and played by Yoed Nir. While on a few tracks, Stuart Matthewman plays some brilliant tenor sax.
Diane was born in Michigan. At the age of seven she began studying piano using the Suzuki method. While growing up she listened to opera, classical and church music. As a child Diane lived with her family in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Sydney, Australia, as her father was a Seventh-day Adventist preacher whose work took him to several countries. When she was ten, her family returned to the United States of America and settled in Portland, Oregon. She has released two excellent and highly acclaimed albums so far Bible Belt (2009) and Speak A Little Louder (2013).
The EP begins with the amazing almost classical medieval almost Gregorian 'Hymn for Hypatia'. It is followed by the anthemic piano soul-infused ballad 'How Long', a sublime song about lost love. It's one of our favourites on the EP. "You'll never know what God is for, Until you fight a holy war, You hold the fire 'cos you can, And call yourself a modern man"
'All killers no fillers' on the album with another great song 'Kings of Queens'. This song sees another side of Diane, with it's almost hypnotic chorus. "Man on first / boys in blue & orange burst, Winning now chances are they’ll lose somehow, Get your fix like you did in ’86, The bad guys won party kids have all the fun" "Kings of Queens with no means to rule, There will always be a crowd to fool, Kings of Queens with no means to rule the world, To rule the world"
'Stand Under My Love' is another stunning heartfelt song almost perfect with its gorgeous piano, percussion and 'heavenly choir' of backing harmony vocals. Another one of our favourites. "Big sky come crashing down, There has to be a place for us in this world, With a little shelter from up above, Little lies at every turn, I wanna be the face you trust in this world, When you need a little shelter, Stand under my love"
'Walk on Water' is another beautifully written song about family and lost love. 'Take a step out, Love's an ocean, We can walk on water'. It's a fusion of classical and blues almost trip-hop at times showcasing Diane's pure vocal.
The album ends with 'Woman' with it's wonderful interplay of piano, tenor sax and vocals.