You know exactly what to expect from Italian troubadour An Early Bird – the work of auteur pop folkster Stefano Di Stefano whose career Backseat Mafia has followed with close attention since our birth when we lauded his band Pipers back in 2013 and then his solo stuff under the name. Di Stefano has shown dedication and passion for his craft throughout the years we have known him: beautifully composed and acutely observed songs infused with romanticism and poetic delicacy. Even more admirable is that An Early Bird songs are written and sung in English considering Di Stefano is Italian and based in Milano.
His new album is remarkable for its delicate polish – wispy tendrils of melody and intricate guitars flow under his soft yearning vocals. The warmth is tangible – it would melt the most frozen of hearts. Di Stefano is a master of creating atmosphere, a perfect delivery for his romanticism and sense of innocence. Di Stefano says of the album:
This is my 5th album and it’s about the importance of the journey itself instead of the final destination: many things in our life could be seen as a waste of time if what we give is not repaid as we expect. Relations, friendship, work and even making art, releasing a new record. But, as long as they mean for us and give us a focus, they will stay beautiful forever as they give a true meaning to our efforts. My new album is about this.
In a remarkable bonus, Di Stefano has collaborated with some of his musical idols in a couple of track: English band Turin Brakes and also Tyler Ramsey, songwriter and former member of Band Of Horses.
Opening track ‘Dreamless’ sets the tone – Di Stefano’s voice to the fore in all its delicate glory over arpeggiated guitars gently plucking in the distance before a pattering of drums kick in over plucked strings. The strings add a layer of tristesse to the dreamy melody.
‘In Stone’ was co-written with Ramsey (A Band of Horses) – featuring gentle dappling guitars with Di Stefano’s gorgeous vocals and glorious harmonies, with Ramsey adding his distinctive vocals. It is followed by the collaboration with Turin Brakes, ‘Still Shine’ – another ethereal track that just glides through the ears like a soft balm.
Songs like ‘So Easy’, ‘To Grow Love’ and ‘Writing’s On The Sand’ are breathtakingly beautiful, delivered with a soft grace that seems to float in the ether, shimmering like stars in the firmament. ‘To Grow Love’ – a stand out track – has echoes of Sufjan Stevens – the tone is heartbreakingly beautiful and majestic. ‘Sobre Love’ featuring &Tilly is another reflective dreamy vignette filled with a sense of loss and regret, the dual vocals majestic.
The album ends with “Whenever, Whatever’, a reflective track with distant resonant guitars that seem to warble and treble over the melodies.
Di Stefano’s vocals have never sounded better – a golden thread of melancholia throughout, velvet soft and yearning. The sound is as ever augmented by sparkling instrumentation – sweeping, weeping strings underpin the soft aquatic flow of the material. An Early Bird is a master of gentle pop that is immersive and ethereal.
‘A Beautiful Waste of Time’ is a majestic and ethereal delight for the senses and another triumph for An Early Bird. Catch this particular ear worm and indulge in its warm embrace. You can download and stream here.