by Raven Craig
Seclusion is a feeling that by now, I’m sure anyone and everyone can describe in detail. Sometimes it feels overwhelming, claustrophobic at the same time as exposing. Feeling as though you’re the only tiny naked human alive in elements far greater and more severe than yourself. I’m sure to many, the thought of “seclusion and isolation" is a frightening thought, but nestled in the sounds of the Alberta folk project “Evening Birds” lies the notion that seclusion may actually be a feeling we could come to embrace.
The currently one man project is born from western Alberta, and vividly paints a daydream of driving past rocky mountains, icy rivers, and cotton candy skies. Echoed acoustics and soft, haunting lyrics offer nostalgia to older folk songs crafted perfectly for solo road trips through a mountain range, but something about Kendall Rodney Bilans voice speaks a certain youthful language that we find in other genres of contemporary music (does it ruin all integrity if I use the word “heart throb"?).
The project relies on the single creators’ complex vocal tones to convey messages of longing, isolation, heartbreak, infatuation and redemption with the aid of a flavourful acoustic guitar to envelope and deliver the stories being told.
Peppered throughout, you may hear a distant howl of an electric guitar or background vocals which guide us through this rocky mountain narrative. But they do so without ever diminishing the image of sitting in a secluded log cabin with no one around but Kendall being backed by a band made up of a crackling fireplace and cold winter winds blowing outside.
This concept is most evident in my personal favourite song, which shares the project's same name, “Evening Birds". Kendall truly sings from the heart in harmony with a variety of layered instruments, which add the texture necessary to keep listeners afloat in case they’re not quite ready to completely submerge into introspection. But I might say an insincere “good luck” avoiding catching a glimpse of self reflection for the duration of this album.
Elegantly titled “Vol. 1”, the debut album is a lyric heavy collection of songs overflowing with imagery of the natural world which was inspired by geography all throughout Western Canada; from the winding western path to Golden, B.C., to the outskirts of Calgary where the seams of city lights begin to fray near Bragg Creek.
Picture if Bob Ross's “Joy of Painting" had background music, except he was painting ghostly figures in a campfire lit forest instead of happy trees, and that’s where this project will take you.
I could see Evening Birds, and Vol. 1 specifically, having full potential in becoming deeply personal music for someone. The duality of tone that emerges when Kendall sings of heartbreak and healing from the natural world could transition through many phases of life; an album you revisit with the changing seasons to give you new inspiration from old comforts.
I can imagine that if the project were born a decade and a half earlier, that tracks from the album would’ve found themselves at home amongst older folk tunes and Eddie Vedder on the soundtrack for the film “Into the Wild"; depicting the inward journey of exploring the outward world.
“Vol. 1” is expected to be joined by two more volumes containing similar tones and themes, which are currently in early stages of recording. Kendall says he'd planned to take the summer of 2020 to work on the follow up albums, regardless of festival cancellations.
In the meantime, to get your fix of Evening Birds, you can follow it on Instagram via @eveningbirds, check out their website at eveningbirdsmusic.com, and of course search Evening Birds on Spotify to drown yourself in the sombre tunes on your next cry-and-drive to the grocery store (you’ll feel better after, I promise).
With fingers crossed, and a little help from the music gods, Evening Birds will be gracing the stages of Western Canada in the summer of 2021 with more beautiful lyrics, acoustic melodies, and rocky mountain skylines painted in our heads.