THE BIRD AND THE BEE: Interpreting The Masters Volume 1 (Blue Note)

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The Bird is singer Inara George and the Bee is Grammy nominated multi-instrumentalist Greg Kurstin and together they make a beguiling, sophisticated music that can veer from easy listening to a very hard slog. This album is the duo’s third and it represents a change of direction – not in mood (we hasten to add) – rather, in choice of material. You see the ‘Masters’ that Ms. Bird and Mr. Bee are interpreting are Daryl Hall and John Oates. The little nine tracker is a lovely romp through the blue-eyed soul boys greatest hits and though some harsher critics than me might say it’s all a piss take, George and Kurstin are adamant that there’s no irony (post-modern or otherwise) here. The pair claim to be great admirers of Hall and Oates and they treat their heroes’ catalogue with a huge respect. Basically the covers are all “straight” though Kurstin pares back the instrumentation to allow the songs more space – and that treatment proves that stuff like ‘Sarah Smile’, ‘She’s Gone’, ‘Kiss On My List’ and ‘Private Eyes’ really are great songs by anyone standards! The new takes allow the subtle harmonic twists and great melodies to shine and in Ms. George, Kurstin has found a singer who knows exactly how to handle such quality. There’s no histrionics, tantrums, liberties or fireworks – just respectful treatments of masterful songs. The album features eight H&O epics; along with the ones we’ve mentioned there are also ‘I Can’t Go For That’, ‘Rich Girl’, ‘Maneater’ and ‘One on One’. The ninth song on the set – ‘Heard It On The Radio’ – is the only original and credit to The Bird and The Bee, it could be an H&O song. You’ll see that this album is billed as a Volume 1… the enigmatic Bird and Bee are keeping tight-lipped about Volume 2 – more H&O or some fresh “Masters”… we’ll need to wait and see.

(BB) 4/5