Kina Grannis is an indie folk artist from Mission Vieja, California. She started her musical career in 2001 and came out with her first full length album Sincerely, Me in 2006. Over the past decade, Grannis has grown her audience and developed her sound immensely. Some of her singles include, “In Your Arms,” “Message from Your Heart,” and “Valentine.” On April 27, 2018, she released an original song entitled “Birdsong” that she both wrote and produced.
This track is definitely something listeners would expect from Kina. Although it does not start with her signature acoustic guitar, you get the same folksy tranquility with a twinkling, airy piano. The vocals come in soft and sincere, and the vibe is somber with a hint of something sweet. Light harmonies fill out the space when Kina’s voice gets to the higher register, creating small yet delicate moments within the piece.
This song seems to be about the death of a friend or a loved one through the metaphor of interacting with a bird for a short period of time. Lyrics like, “So that’s goodbye / My eager friend / I’d have thought we would have had another morning” and “Tell us, tell us what you see / Soaring high above humanity / Do you see me” lead me to believe that possibly this person’s death was unexpected or sudden, or just traumatizing. This use of an extended metaphor matched with her serene vocals makes the song mournful, yet at the same time she seems to be coming to terms with the tragedy. In the music video, she holds a white dove, which often symbolizes peace and love.
More instrumentation trickles in as the song progresses, but it does not weigh the song down. It only builds interest and emotion. However, it is all stripped away when she sings the “Tell us, tell us what you see” line, further emphasizing it as an important point of the song. Even though texture is added to the song, it never really explodes or hits a high point. The song remains rather consistent in
terms of volume and tension. There aren’t really any moments of satisfying resolution or release; however, that just seems to be the subdued, calm nature of the song. It is not supposed to be an exciting whirlwind of noise; just a quiet ode to a bird or a loved one.
Overall, “Birdsong” is a sorrowful yet warm song that fits nicely into Kina Grannis’ catalogue. Symbolism paired with simple arrangements is her bread and butter, and she does it well every time. This is a low energy, soothing track is moving and thought-provoking, and it makes listeners focus on every word she says and every note she plays.