Although most of Ian Anderson's career was spent with the legendary British progressive folk rock band, Jethro Tull, Mr. Anderson has been able to create many great pieces of music on his own. By that I mean putting his own name on the cover. This album features guest musicians James Duncan (drums), Gerry Conway (drums), and Martin Barre, the most famous guitarist from Ian Anderson's band Jethro Tull (electric guitar). As well as Andy Giddings who was clearly a large part of the album as he played keyboards, accordion, electric bass. marimba, organ, percussion, piano.
Ian Anderson practically invented the folky flute rock sound that is prevalent throughout his long career. But of course his music is more than just the style heard on 'Tull classics such as Fat Man, Teacher, Witches Promise, Bungle in the Jungle, Cross Eyed Mary and of course, Thick as a Brick (I recommend all of these songs, by the way). Throughout this very musically diverse album, you hear many different musical influences. This is not a head banging album and those who only like the heavier sound of Jethro Tull songs such as My God and Locomotive Breath will be sorely disappointed as this album is definitely not rock and roll. As for the lyrics, I don't think that Ian Anderson has ever written poor lyrics. The songs range in topic and mood but the inspired and clever poetry remains a constant.
The first song and also the title track, The Secret Language of Birds
is a calm and woodsy song that is similar to classic 'Tull with the exception of electric guitars. Ian Anderson's singing, flute melodies, and unique vocals are very pleasing and the song sets the mood and warms up the listener for quite an impressive and enjoyable album. The second song, The Little Flower Girl
begins with a beautiful and laid back flute solo and jumps into the main section of the song which has a dark and compelling melody. The chorus has a great violin part as well as some mandolin work. I have no idea what the heck the lyrics are about other than it sounds like it's about molesting a little girl at a church. However I�m most likely horribly wrong. The flute solo is one of my favorite Ian Anderson solos. It's short and without very many notes but great. The sign of a seasoned musician is knowing when not to play a lot of superfluous notes and Ian Anderson definitely shows this in his music.
begins with a very Irish/Scottish sounding flute melody. If then goes into a rather uninteresting verse that has some nice accordion but is probably just a lead up to the upbeat and catchy section that follows but doesn't last long enough. This is a nice song, overall. It's about the volcanic activity on the island of Montserrat in the Caribbean Sea and how the island had to be evacuated.
The Water Carrier
is a rather intriguing song that begins with middle-eastern sounding acoustic guitar and is impressive throughout with interesting riffs that make use of flute, accordion and inter-instrument harmonies. The album then goes into the short British minstrel sounding song, Set-Aside
. It's simplistic and short quite good for what it is. A Better Moon
is a dark sounding song with hints of Native North American music. The variety of musical influences prevalent in Ian Anderson's music amazes me.
is a brilliant song that is slow and laid back but with beautiful violin and flute playing. Ian Anderson's acoustic guitar playing is excellent on this song as well. It's a sad song about child prostitution in Nepal and how Prince Charles was moved enough by the situation during a visit that he and a charity organization stepped in and moved them to a "sanctuary" to die (most had aids) peacefully. The highlight of the song is the sad and emotional violin leads. The Jasmine Corridor
is a dark song which deals with the subject of death. The main instrument is an acoustic guitar but there is a little accordion in there too. It's overall, a good song.
The Habanero Reel
is a superb song with an enchanting accordion riff, and an extremely catchy chorus that sounds very Scottish. Overall, it's a great song. Panama Freighter
has a sort of river-dance quality to it and makes you want to dance (if you're into that sort of thing). Everything, the Flutes, accordions, mandolin and guitar are all exceptional. In parts of the song they duel back and forth. This one and The Habanero Reel are among the best on the album.
The second part of The Secret Language of Birds
is more upbeat and is probably the hardest rocking (if such a thing on this album exists) on the album. Circular Breathing
is another mainly acoustic song with great flute as usual.
Though they are not together on the album, I'm going to discuss the two instrumental songs, Boris Dancing
and The Stormont Shuffle together
. Both are impressive songs driven by flute and accordion. Boris Dancing is woodsier and The Stormont Shuffle is darker but they are both equally enjoyable instrumentals. You do not have to play flute or accordion to be pleasured and impressive by these songs. All you have to be is a fan of great music.
The album is extremely impressive and great for anyone who likes soft but not slow and boring folk music. The rockers who like Jethro Tull but only the heavier songs would not enjoy this album as it is not Jethro Tull. It is Ian Anderson and since this album was released in 2000, at the time, he was a lot older than the crazy tight-wearing, flute-wielding rocker who brought us classic albums such as Aqualung, Stand Up and Thick as a Brick. But I urge people to give this album a chance. With age comes a better understanding of music and this is especially apparent on this album. You don't hear any wild, crazy flute shredding but instead a more modest style of playing that can be equally as enjoyable.
-Wide variety of instruments used
-one or two simple songs that are a little uninteresting