BMA Magazine

[Album Review] CJ Bowerbird & The Downfall Choir – Beyond This Blue [To Here From Naivety Records]

Review by Rory McCartney

The latest project by spoken word artist and winner of the 2013 Australian Poetry Slam, CJ Bowerbird, sees him combine his poetry with the sounds of The Downfall Choir. The album, based on a performance piece at the 2017 National Folk Festival, tells the story of a day’s events, seen through the prism of the artist’s eye.

CJ greets the listener with a bright “Welcome friends!”, and a request to remind him of the importance of this moment. We are told of the uniqueness of each moment of life and the distinctive quality of individuals, with the oft repeated line “I see you!”

All those present are embraced by the story, which highlights the specialness of everyday life. The day begins in earnest in ‘Ring Road Taxi 5:00 AM’. Dawn comes as, “The night kisses me on the cheek and says I’ll see you again soon”.

‘Newy Poem’ and ‘Ghosts of Past Selves’ explore the dimension of time, where locations hold the palimpsest of our past personal events, spread over places near and far.

The ten-woman choir provides a range of musical backing, ranging from the simple looped tune of the opener, to a spooky hum, to tick-tock sound representing fleeting time, to background chatter and laughter. ‘Hockey Field’ delivers the line from which the album takes it title, encompassing the enormity of the sky, while ‘Bottle This Moment’ emphasises the importance of saving good memories, instead of giving into the temptation of recalling past hurts.

CJ exhibits a keen perception of the beauty and inherent poetry of common objects and activities. Passing cars are described as “bubbles of light and life”, while a sporting activity is “the geometry of opportunity”. CJ’s verbal magnifying glass shows us how incredible life is, if only we allow ourselves to slow down enough to appreciate it.