In 2015 Sasha provided us with her debut LP, Most of the Boys. It was a haunting, compelling, weird (in a good way), and most importantly, unique effort. Only one year has passed and she's back with Bird Burning, which is all of those things I just mentioned with one important improvement, it's all done with more control. You can hear it in her sound, she's brimming with ideas, patterns, harmonies, orchestrations, etc. And while her vocals always bring to mind the Celtic sound ("Air V - You Forgotten"), her structuring is very reminiscent of jazz, in it's chaotic, free-wheeling approach.
Sasha Siem is a musician/ composer who, in her young career, has built a solid reputation, composing pieces for The Royal Opera House, London Philharmonic and Symphony Orchestras, among others. Her music breaks free of any real classification, bringing in folk sounds to blend with the jazz to mix with classical to support the...you get the point. And within all that is a spastic and beautiful exploration by an artist who, I don't think will ever abide by the rules and traditions set by her peers.
Bird Burning opens with the tribal "Crow," whose calm intensity sets the tone for the rest of the album. She builds a forceful presence without attacking you, her voice forever delicate, while her sound both intrigues and mystifies. A few weeks ago, when reviewing Agnes Obel's Citizen of Glass I mentioned that I could listen to it at any time, any place, and mood. I mention this because I feel Sasha's style is reminiscent of Agnes' but the way I feel about Sasha's music brings almost the exact opposite predilection. Bird Burning took me awhile to review simply because my preference for listening was so specific, based almost entirely on atmosphere, allowing me only a small window to listen and feel. And feel I did.
The aforementioned genre crossing elements she brings to the table: folk, classical, jazz, etc. (the gypsy-esque "Air IV - You Punish"!) all work in support of the poetry she spins. She is an artist who is working without limits, her capacity to create far reaching. The album maintains itself wonderfully, and every instance in which I was reminded of another artist or band, it was one who was on the same explorative sonic journey as her (ex. Lisa Hannigan, San Fermin, Florence + The Machine). Bird Burning won't be for everyone, but for the people it is for, prepare to be impressed.