Diane Birch – Bible Belt
From the opening notes of Fire Escape, I was immediately struck by the soulful tones of Diane Birch. Raised with religion as her parent’s top priority, the aptly named Bible Belt album combines soul with gospel to deliver these thirteen songs.
There’s a cute video for Valentino which uses many camera tricks to create something quite exciting. In fact, it was this video that inspired me to write this review. It’s a cheerful song with the title referring to an imaginary friend who appears to have been her way of escaping her strict upbringing. She didn’t discover pop music until her teenage years, although she played the piano from an early age, which works well as an accompaniment for her vocals.
Other personal highlights of the album would have to be Fools, Rewind and Don’t Wait Up for their varying styles. Whilst I enjoy Mirror Mirror for it’s reflections upon Birch’s life, I can’t help but find it tiring. It’s not hard work to listen to – I’d actually class it as ‘easy listening’ – but her soft voice could do with a bit of energy injected into it on a few songs to prevent the listener from falling asleep.
Forgiveness begins with the religious term ‘Hallelujah’ referencing Birch’s past once more. Her childhood clearly had a profound effect on her with travelling around the world being a major part of her first ten years. By ten, she’d lived in three different continents and would later settle in a fourth, Europe, when it came to writing Bible Belt. Each country must have brought with it new experiences and many goodbyes which Birch has been quoted saying she got used to. It can’t have been easy arriving somewhere, settling in then leaving, but I guess that was all she knew and so she’s used these experiences to help construct the album.
Whilst it’s not the most uplifting album, nor the most exciting, Bible Belt has a selection of sophisticated songs that are full of aspiration, regret and emotion. Birch has a great vocal ability and her lyrics are full of meaning which I always regard highly.