If you never liked (fairy)tales, you’ll be surprised at your change of heart and will want to grab the book of tales nearest to you after sitting for an hour surrounded by Paper Bird‘s music. I find myself most particularly thinking of Hans Christian Andersen‘s stories. How could one not see the connection with the Little Mermaid when in her lyrics she writes about coming out of the water smelling like fish with a body in pain? And is it just me, or does a line like “my body over the ocean” immediately trigger an image of a little boy hanging on a goose’s neck, flying south for winter? In Anna’s songs, especially the earlier ones, as her voice fluctuates you close your eyes and think of magic, of sea-water, of old stoves and castles in the sky.
photo by Klaus Totzler (Vienna Songwriting Association)
By the last song of the set – the beautiful Vessel – she almost had tears in her eyes. Some people say that live music makes them cry, but how many musicians do you see being so moved by music that it becomes physical, while they’re playing with a brand new guitar – a guitar they’ve acquired after playing a benefit concert for Haiti where, inexplicably, their guitar has been destroyed and then returned, as she tells her audience? Few. A few of the genuine ones. And when you see Anna Kohlweis standing on that small stage, the same where she stood 4 years ago maybe a little nervous at the time but now completely sure of herself as she asks the sound technician to fix things here and there, in her new skin – that of a paper bird alter ego, turning day after day more like her – you realise that as she speaks between songs, telling anecdotes here and there, she loves this mutation: the art student blending in with a musician capable of bewitching the most diverse crowds as she walks among them. Holding her microphone with one hand, with the finger of the other she points and sings, “I want you and you and you and you and you and you and you” and you know, for a fact, that she does. She wants all of us, she wants everyone to sit there and attempt to understand and most of all, feel. Yes, feeling – using our senses, smelling old furniture and books, touching wood and frosted glass, hearing voices from the past.
A Lie a Lie (slow down)
I Want You
My Body is Over the Ocean
List of Demands (Saul Williams cover)