As the year slowly moves on, more and more musicians are postponing their tours out of respect for public safety. One of those artists is Gabriel Birkby from Buffalo, who goes by the moniker ‘Birkby.’ After cancelling a number of shows around Western NY, Birkby decided to release his first EP, Another Planet, which he had teased to his fans earlier this year. This splendid debut combines uplifting and positive music with vivid lyrics that paint a story line of a society in reform after leaving their homeland. The contrast between the emotional lyrics and the musical style of each song results in a release that is both majestic and captivating.
The album starts with “Change in the Weather,” a song about growth and new beginnings that is brimming with hope and promise. This upbeat track offers a glimpse at some elements that we’ll see through this EP: the pure emotion in Birkby’s voice, the interplay of dreamy synths and joyous guitar, and a chorus that feels like the clouds are parting and the sun is shining down on you. Also featured is Mike Gantzer of Aqueous, who provided additional percussion and a guitar solo on this opening track.
Next up is “Underground Republic,” another song with a cheery sound that really benefits from the impressive way Birkby’s voice dances around his guitar work. The lyrics continue to paint a picture of new growth and uncertainty, but the chorus will certainly speak to a lot of listeners in this sheltered time of our lives when he exclaims “How about a little privacy Cause I know how I get And I’m sure I’ll regret.”
Halfway through the release, we come across “Awake,” which stands apart from the rest of the album. This track is a soulful and synth-heavy jam that features a slower tempo and laid-back vibe, thanks in part to some 808s and beautiful layered vocals in the chorus. Despite the change in style, “Awake” still shares the elements that Birkby excels at throughout this release. His ability to blend multiple elements on his track with mastery is apparent in the way the keys and drums play so beautifully together underneath an emotional chorus pleading, “Can I get a hand over here?”
Shifting musical gears again, “Inconsistent” is one of my favorite numbers on the EP. Each verse has a wonderful bounce to it and with lyrics that praise the search for clarity, salvation and a trust in what you can see for yourself while being skeptical of what the written word holds. But it’s the emotion and funky feeling of the chorus that won me over and this whole track has a flow to it that’s sure to make you smile, as I found myself humming it for days.
Birkby saved the title track for the end of this release and it’s a great send-off that once again showcases both his incredible vocal talent and his guitar mastery as he has the two dance together throughout the chorus. “Another Planet” paints a picture of promise, improvement and encouragement, all while reminding you to “Wake and meet the burning day” because there is “Another future on the horizon.”
Birkby’s first EP release is a must-listen, especially during these days of self-isolation. Another Planet may only 5 tracks long, but it’s a welcomed release in these strange times that only gets better with each listen. You can purchase the digital album or stream it from Bandcamp and the EP will be available to stream on Spotify starting April 20.
Key Tracks: Inconsistent, Another Planet