Peter Gural’s eleven-song album Birdy’s World practically surges with youthful vitality that pushes back against the warring emotions roiling just below the surface of many of his songs. There’s an ultimately redemptive air surrounding Gural’s writing, however, as the song existing at all is a musical rebuke to any despair. The title song embodies this nicely. You can’t help but feel a pleasant charge from hearing the lively tempo of the opening track and the melodic window-dressing that gives “Birdy’s World” a stylish façade. It is a performance that sets a template for much of what follows.
The strong sense of identity radiating from each of Gural’s eleven cuts puts Birdy’s World’s on a different level. Gural has an identifiable presence that lights up each musical and lyrical line with the ability to turn a phrase in his own unique way. “Lonely Song” is one of the release’s biggest overall successes. You hear a nearly full realization of Gural’s songwriting vision with this track – the ringing guitar chords and notes, the fleet-footed pace, the tasteful artistry abounding in every passage. There’s a true one-of-a-kind, almost hand-made aspect to his songs in examples such as this that set Gural apart as a major talent.
“Around the Bend” is a song that may promise commercial success. It has eminently relatable lyrics that present Gural at his communal best and the cool glitter of the song’s instrumental sound reaches an early apex with the track’s arrangements that its predecessor thus far haven’t achieved. Gural ups the ante with each new song.
“Ollie” and “Lost Island Man” are similarly well realized. The first is another of the album’s outstanding quick-on-its-feet guitar tracks, but six-strings are never omnipresent under Gural’s purview. His music largely takes a compositional or orchestral approach to incorporating the instrumental while still threading a needle by assigning it such prominence within the arrangement. The guitar for the second song likewise achieves results through a process of accumulation. Contributions made over the course of “Lost Island Man” help flesh one of the best songs Gural has for this offering and the other musicians check off each box as well.
“Flatline” can be “about” a lot of things but hitting your bottom and having to cobble together a reason to carry on is one of the most viable interpretations. It’s an intensely personal song for Gural, but the open-heartedness of his voice and the unflinching portrayal of his experiences open vistas for listeners that might have stayed closed. The misty free-floating sparkle of synthesizers and keyboards keeping “I’ll Be in Your Heart” aloft surprisingly works with smashing results. Gural is wise to punctuate the song with timely percussion and guitar.
Birdy’s World covers an impressive gamut. Peter Gural successfully plants his artistic flag in a handful of musical worlds without ever stretching credibility and maintains a slick balance between distance and intimacy that will appeal to a broad swath of the music-listening audience. He’ll appeal, as well, to casual and devoted music fans alike. This eleven-song effort is well worth seeking out today.