Deep Blue, new album from Billie Rainbird…
Considering the overabundance of music being released today, it’s extremely rare when a debut album not only stands out from the pack but demands repeated listens. Billie Rainbird’s Deep Blue due out May 27th 2015, on cdbaby and itunes is that kind of album.
The Canadian-born singer-songwriter possesses a voice imbued with honesty, emotion, naturalness, versatility and sensuality. Her songwriting rings true, making itself at home immediately—each of the 10 tracks that comprise Deep Blue is a unique listening experience so intimate and warm, and so undeniably powerful, that the music feels as though it’s resided on your personal playlist for years.
But what’s also rare about Deep Blue is the sheer high-level musicality housed within its grooves. Unlike so many other contemporary recordings, Deep Blue is the result of countless hours of sweat and hard work expended in the studio, helmed by the legendary British drummer and producer Simon Phillips, whose extensive résumé has found him collaborating in the past with such giants as the Who, Toto, Jeff Beck and many others, as well as recording several highly regarded solo albums.
Between Phillip’s virtuosity and Rainbird’s golden ears, natural songwriting and musical gifts, it’s no wonder that Deep Blue resonates so—well, so deeply.
“Simon brings his years of musicianship, recording, engineering and producing experience to the process,” says Rainbird. “His musical experience and vocabulary is incredibly vast, acute and diverse and he applies it all here. He knows where and how to get the sounds. Simply put, he has the knowledge and knowhow. He also has a beautiful knack for producing other fine musicians and the sounds he gets are sublime. His intensity and focus is unparalleled—not to mention his musicianship at that monster drum kit of his, which I have to say is a bit like standing in front of a stampede of amazing creatures changing shapes and sizes. He is phenomenal!”
Although this is Rainbird’s first full-length album, she brings considerable experience of her own to the project. She is gifted, completely self-taught, composing on the piano, arranging and singing, and has already previously released the soulful EP single “Like You Were Here” and the consciously aware duet, “No Great Divide,” with Julian Lennon.
Says Doane Perry, a renowned drummer in his own right, “Billie Rainbird’s Deep Blue is an extraordinary musical experience, on every level. The songs and the evocative storytelling, the singing, the playing, the overall conceptual approach, are powerful, moving and passionately rendered, and the experience of hearing it in the splendid environment of Phantom Recordings Studio lingered for a very long time after the event. Added to that is the absolutely superb, detailed, dynamic and inspired production. It is one of the finest records that I have heard in recent memory and a deeply artistic statement from both Billie and Simon of which they should be justifiably proud. Deep Blue is an amazing and memorable musical journey!”
Admittedly though, none of Rainbird’s prior output comes close to the grandness and maturity that pervade Deep Blue. Here all of Rainbird’s skills come to the fore throughout every track. Recorded at producer Phillips’ Phantom Recording Studio in Los Angeles, the album—more than a year in the making—showcases Rainbird’s gifts in outstanding fashion.
“In the case of ‘Adalay,’ ‘Cantik Calls’ ‘Deep Blue’ and ‘We’re All Connected’” Rainbird says, referring to four of the album’s standout tunes, “I approached Simon about the genres, the styles, moods and feels. I explained, “I feel this, I hear this, this sound, this energy, this story… I have this in the works etc… He would add, I would add and it would evolve. We just bounced ideas off one another, moved on it and simultaneously stepped aside, letting it happen. We sounded out the harmonies I had and I came up with the melodies and lyrics.
We inspire one another with the simplest of moves and we’re both completely musically open, a fantastic fit!”
“Adalay,” the opening track, is one of Rainbird’s own favorites on the album. Featuring guests Renee Jones (bass), L. Shankar (vocal) and Steve Smith contributing konokol (an Indian music technique of performing percussive sounds vocally), the song introduces the listener to Rainbird’s diverse talents with a taste of the exotic. “‘Adalay’ is a story celebrating femininity, in all forms, all beings, in space and time,” Rainbird says. “She is sensitivity, grace, enlightenment. She is love. She is in everything and everywhere.”
“Cantik Calls” is another special number. “It was inspired by the magical nights of Bali, the electricity in the air, the sensuality, its stillness, the purple hazy fog slowly moving through and hovering in the valley of Meditation Ridge. It’s about longing, seeking for and finding connection.” Rainbird says. “The energy and peace there is a potent combination which is intoxicating. Cantik is Balinese and means beautiful.”
Among the other tracks, Rainbird co-crafted “Get Down Get Dirty” and “Dance for You” with Scott Petito, who plays guitar, bass and keyboards on the recording. Petito also helped to shape “Yah Um,” one of the more lyrically potent tunes on the album. Other highlights include “I Need You,” “Move On” and “Things I Do.” The track “We’re All Connected,” says Rainbird, “was a force of nature finding its way home.”
“Billie’s musical taste is diverse and exotic. She’s deeply soulful, incredibly talented and adventurous. She’s extremely articulate and challenging, but never on a precarious or pretentious level. Every song came about differently,” says Phillips. “Sometimes Billie already had a melody and a chord progression, and sometimes she had a complete demo, or just an idea, a concept. However they came up, the seed of the idea came from her. That was what really blew me away about Billie—all the ideas that came along. She’s extraordinary, a tremendous artist and every bit as passionate, exciting and beautifully alluring as her music. Each song has its own style and meaning; the album is a collection of different songs with different styles. And she has a wonderful voice that can tell a story in a sensual, alluring way that could capture the hearts of any audience. It’s a musical journey! ”
To help flesh out the ideas they were developing Phillips and Rainbird assembled a team of ace musicians. In addition to multi-instrumentalist Petito, Jeff Babko contributes Fender Rhodes, Hammond B3 organ, clavinet, piano and a string section; Chris Trujillo plays percussion; Mike Miller and Tim Pierce are the other guitarists; Steve Weingart also plays Fender Rhodes; Katisse Buckingham plays flute and alto flute; and Ernest Tibbs is the bassist. “All of the players on this album are truly world-class,” says Rainbird. “They performed brilliantly and gave generously. They all are unique and passionate and, it goes without saying, incredibly professional.”
The basic tracks, she says, were recorded live, with overdubs and layering taking place in the studio afterwards to bring polish to the sound. “Deep Blue is a compilation of experiences from around the world, over a period of time,” Rainbird says in summation. “It’s an expression of those sensations and feelings. My hope for this music is to share and connect with others. Maybe someone will relate and not feel alone when they listen to ‘I Need You.’ Or if they’re confronted with negativity, or a difficult time, hopefully listening to this album will help alter that for them in some way. And if they’re in a great mood it will enhance that, or just be a journey to go on and be enjoyed!
Perhaps some might just simply listen, feel the music and the stories… maybe it will take them to a place that is meaningful, or fun or just be a great escape— something that makes them feel good and smile inside.”