“One more dreamer stuck inside a dream”, Eve Adams sighs during the understated drama of “The Dying Light”, one of the many initially unassuming gems that gradually grow in stature and hypnotic pull on Metal Bird.
That line provides fairly apt shorthand for the Los Angeles-based songwriter’s third album. The songs on Metal Bird often appear stuck between the viscerally real here-and-now and the subtly unsettling and distinctly surreal realm of dreams.
Perhaps due to the songwriter’s residence in the same city that birthed the Hollywood dream machine, the woozy and narcotically drowsy (intended as a compliment) Americana that populates Metal Bird also appears untethered to any particular time and place; simultaneously evoking the gin-soaked, torch song-soundtracked days of classic film noir and the tense, brightly-lit present. Aided by producer Military Genius (aka Bruce Cloghesy from Canadian collective Crack Cloud), the record manages to come across as both almost uncomfortably unfiltered and decluttered in its bone-dry and folky intimacy, and as lavishly ornamented as a vintage session on a Hollywood studio soundstage.
When it comes to the songs, the title of Metal Bird’s 2019 predecessor – Candy Coloured Doom – points at the right direction. Emerging from the aftermath of a family tragedy, even the more whimsically outgoing offerings – the unsteadily trotting “A Walk In The Park”; the tipsy waltz of “Blues Look The Same” – pack a whiff of impending disasters and dark secrets just about to unfold: when the protagonist on “Woman on Your Mind” offers to wash her companion’s jacket in the sink, you kind of figure there might be blood stains or at the very least the stench of countless nervously lit cigarettes involved.
The quiet intensity racks up as tempos drop: the hypnotically twirling “Le Ronde” in particular sparkles with hypnotic, woundedly weary beauty. Best of all is the tense title track: as Adams raises her voice and coats her guitar in discordant fuzz, it hints at potentially thornier and more abrasive (yet still intimately majestic) future directions that could address the one and only possible flaw with Metal Bird, the album’s uniformly first-gear pace.