By Jamie Davison.
After a difficult year, Amateur Ornithologist (the musical project of the North-East’s own Daniel J Clifford) soars onto the scene with debut single Birds Fly Over Me. Released on April 16th, the cheerfully melodic and thoughtfully written track explores feelings around finding and surrendering yourself to new love.
Amateur Ornithologist’s debut was written with a number of genres and influences in mind, from indie pop to new wave to post-punk, and blends them like your favourite smoothie.
The near ever-present synth harkens to new wave classics like Love Will Tear Us Apart (Joy Division) and This Is The Day (The The), while the guitars, drums and bass take on a distinctively stabby, spacey indie pop quality. That each and every instrument shines through the often busy mix is a testament to Harbourmaster’s production, which is immaculate from start to finish.
Birds Fly Over Me bleeds bittersweet optimism, carried by Clifford’s crystal clear vocals and the unrelentingly positive instrumentation. While those vocals sound a little thin at times, this hardly matters when every other aspect of the song works to bolster and boost them.
Towards the end of the track a flawlessly performed brass arrangement played by Lee Morris swoops in, affirming the song’s positive feel with its undulating melodies, all the while nesting on top of simple-yet-effective drums performed by Matt Hardy.
In a song that is truly a sign of the times – crafted through a mixture of remote recording and socially-distanced studio sessions – Clifford shows true songwriting potential.
His message is clear and heartfelt: “As long as the birds are flying, there’s still a chance to love”, and this message reverberates throughout.
I believe it speaks of Clifford’s character, that in a year of illness, unemployment and love lost, he was able to see past the (metaphorical) droppings to the beautiful bird that left them, and of his musicality that he was able to translate these feelings into such a genuine song.
While Birds Fly Over Me is not perfect, it is a very strong first offering, and I am very much looking forward to seeing the project spread its wings on the 16th of June with the release of debut album Birdwatching.