Secrets of Birds

by Hilary Downes

/
  • Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

      $10 USD  or more

     

1.
03:59
2.
02:03
3.
4.
5.
02:59
6.
7.
04:11
8.
9.
04:12
10.
03:27

about

After performing and recording with The Snow throughout NYC for six years, I joined The Bushwick Book Club - which invites musicians to read selected work, then to write and perform songs inspired by those works. Within a couple of years, I had a handful of songs I wanted to arrange for a band.

A few of the tracks were originally co-written and performed with Dylan Nowik - a musician and composer, himself - who helped record, performed on and mixed the album. The other half were composed independently of the book club - ten was the magic number that warranted a recording project. The band was comprised of many long-time musical friends, who recorded the album on a beautiful leafy hilltop in Putnam County, New York in June of 2016.

Among the collection are a meditation on the making of an omelette, inspired by the Bossa Nova tradition and Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking;" a plaintive country shuffle about an earthquake; and a gypsy jazz ode to a charming man who couldn't get his shit together, inspired by Betty Smith's "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn."

The songs give voice to an inward journey, as evoked by the natural world - including the human animals within it. The album as a whole represents this journey as one completed cycle of the self.

credits

released January 28, 2017

Hilary Downes
“Secrets of Birds”

Musicians
Matt Brandau: electric bass, upright bass
Mike Cohen: guitar
Hilary Downes: vocals, piano, percussion
Dylan Nowik:
lead guitar on “The Owl” and “The Gist”
additional guitar on “Masters of the Table” and “The Word”
backing vocals on “Deep Well” and “The Word”
percussion
Karl Meyer: violin
Jeffrey Schaeffer: drums
Sara Stalnaker: cello

Additional Musicians
Pierre de Gaillande: percussion on “Hearts Plateau”

Recorded by Pierre de Gaillande and Dylan Nowik at California Hill Studios in Carmel, New York, and by Dylan Nowik at The Dekalb Palace in Brooklyn, New York.
Mixed by Dylan Nowik
Mastered by Chicky Reeves at Sublime Recording Studios, London, UK

Photos by Naomi White
Assisted by Ethan Christy
Styling by Laura Escalante
Hair and Makeup by Katie Wedlund
Album Design by John Leamy

Photos shot at California Hill, Carmel, New York, 2016

All songs by Hilary Downes (c 2017 BMI)
except

“The Gist,” music and lyrics by Hilary Downes and Dylan Nowik
"Masters of the Table" music by Hilary Downes and Dylan Nowik
“The Word,” music by Hilary Downes and Dylan Nowik

secretsofbirds.com
hilaryedownes.com

tags

license

all rights reserved

about

Hilary Downes New York

Having written and performed three albums fro 2006-2012 with The Snow, "Secrets of Birds" is Downes' solo project. She assembles, produces and leads ensembles for weddings, synchronized swimming performances, parties, fundraisers and other events - and brings chamber concerts to NYM Hospital. She is a member of The Bushwick Book Club, where musicians respond to books with original new songs. ... more

contact / help

Contact Hilary Downes

Streaming and
Download help

Redeem code

Track Name: Caldera
They walked around the blue abyss
Formed by collapse of land
Stood at its edge and shared a kiss
Admired it -- took a picture, hand in hand

There were two islands in the water
Two colonies of green
They peeked above the surface
To see what from below could not be seen

One could predict
That the love they felt was equal to the harm they could inflict
And they were reminded
Away it fell
Its ripples told their secrets
Its reflection threw them back upon themselves

A series of eruptions
Had left a gaping hole
Two gods destroyed a mountain
Was it nature’s course or something to console

In a world where walked the wounded
She’d gone to war and died two times
As long as fear consumed him
He would perpetrate the same old crimes

There is no doubt
You strangled your agonies while I was forced to shout
But you couldn’t hear me
Waters profound
More deep than they are clear
A basin that could only cradle tears
Track Name: Deep Well
He was a useless dreamer
She had a fierce desire
Love obscured their differences
Til romance did expire

Thought that he could live
In his imagination
Denied the things she couldn’t forgive
Was prone to exaggeration

Sang every song, both old and new
About going out to sea
Delusion deep as ocean blue
About the man he’d never be

Songs of the sea betrayed him
Songs of the sea had lied
Everything gone terribly wrong
Despite how hard he tried

Would that she could hold the night
Cold and without wind
To hold all of it oh so tight
Until it let her in

The heart it has a vastness
An ocean that can’t be held
Accommodates both life and death
The heart is a deep well
The heart is a deep well
The heart is a deep well
Track Name: Hearts Plateau
Walking upon
Your heart’s plateau
Exposed to the sun,
Rain and the snow

Sky wide above
Ocean swells below
Tectonic plates collide
Hot lava flows

Wind may scatter sands of doubt
On this landscape
Within and without
Stand still, listen, you will hear
My heartbeat, always near

Waters erode
The stones we can’t move
Ground will change
As only time can prove
Track Name: Masters of the Table
Baby it’s no joke
The element is near
These embers hours do stoke
The recipe is clear

We are just two parts
We both live in our shells
United in our hearts
Cast in iron we swell

Pleasure here is infinite
When the chef is able
Loving concentration makes
Masters of the table

Pleasure here is infinite
When the chef is able
Loving concentration makes
Masters of the table

Peasants princes presidents
Develop your own style
Midwifes minstrels magicians
Trial after trial

Peasants princes presidents
Develop your own style
Midwifes minstrels magicians
Trial after trial

Tossed into the dark
Stirred by fate’s long limbs
Practice all the moves
Until the fire dims

A tender golden oval
Where our souls collide
Smooth and savory
Our nourishment and pride

Pleasure here is infinite
When the chef is able
Loving concentration makes
Masters of the table

Pleasure here is infinite
When the chef is able
Loving concentration makes
Masters of the table
Track Name: The Owl
Strange and wonderful
Under cover of night
Possessed with perception
In the dim light
Silently flying you are
Elusive and feathered and far

A sign of good luck
Augur of demise
Inspiring legends
Puzzling and wise
You’re not as big as you seem
I met you once in a dream

Carry what you caught
All the broke goods that you bought
You see everything
Diving high
Your beauty stings

Long in the legs
Face shaped like a heart
Thrust your feet forward
Toes spread apart
There is a hole in your chest
Reject what you can’t digest

Eternal ghost bird
You call as you please
Resting and hidden
Alone in the trees
Surprising prey on the ground
Devouring what you have found
Track Name: Canon of Proportions
Born of noble name
Nine heads high he went
Wielded a mighty blade
And a faculty for scent

Left long shadows in the sand
His arms, wings of a plane
He was Davinci’s man
His soul dwarfed by his frame

The desert was his prison and
The road became his fate
Entangled in his freedom
Trapped in his own escape

Twenty-four palms would make a man
Sure as the moon would rise
Scarred were palms of his two hands
More grand than he was wise

The desert was his prison and
The road became his fate
Entangled in his freedom
Trapped in his own escape

Her wishes were his orders
So the tall man said
Left steering to the hands of god
Blind to the road ahead

She bled without dying
Carried on a wave
The cross was on his back
Its bearer and its slave

The desert was his prison and
The road became his fate
Entangled in his freedom
Trapped in his own. . .
Track Name: The Gist
Brand around your neck
Lost in remains from a wreck
A noose that you escaped
You’re a child who never took man’s shape

Always wanting more,
But never trusting open doors
She will give and you will take
While the hangman’s on his break

This land is ours, this street is main
And it’s gentler here, this new terrain
Have we arrived at the source
We are students of the nature’s course

Lady luck, she found her wealth
Took it from her former self
Queen of the sky, queen of the plain
She made herself a nest where birds could lay

Hearts would ache and hearts would yearn
Slowly, surely, they would learn
A body with a thousand burns
A juncture with a thousand turns

This land is ours, the signs are clear
And the source you seek is ever near
How you will fail to arrive
If gallows keep you ever tied

This land is ours, the signs are clear
And the source you seek is ever near
How you will fail to arrive
If gallows keep you ever tied
Track Name: Secrets of Birds
Save me from these thoughts
dive-bomb every part
Save me from these doubts
Dissecting my heart

Shouldn’t do this anymore
you occupy my head
set me free, find a cure
occupy my bed

I will be loved
Its motives blurred
But my heart’s a real thing
It knows the secrets of birds

Save me from these thoughts
dive-bomb every part
Save me from these doubts
That burrow in my heart

Change your mind, let me know
I will hold you near
If you love it, let it go
tell your secret, tell it clear

I will be loved
Its ways absurd
But my heart’s a real thing
It knows the secrets of birds

I am not afraid
Of what birds say
I am not afraid
of the darkness in my way

Tiny birds that swarm our heads
Catch the end and pull the thread
Tiny birds that swarm our heads
Unravel thoughts and sing instead
Sing instead
Track Name: The Word
Everything had to be a game
A game is something you do instead of
Everyone would end up the same
What do you care
You just keep us down here

Is it real what they say of the soul
Is it true that it sticks to the body
If I want to get out of this world
I’ll stay out late ride my bike search for treasure

She had a black hole inside her
Floating and plunging, at the same moment
Hole drilled a tunnel right through her
Was it her parents’ fault
Or was life just difficult

Is it true what they say about growing
You become what you are if you are what you are
If I want to get out of this world
I’ll lie behind clouds, just like the moon does

Couldn’t fight the tide any longer
Even strong swimmers get tired and drown
Needed somewhere to belong
Nevermind where if currents are gentle

Is it real what they say of the heart
If you cut it open, you’d find a word carved there
If I want to get out of this world
May the word in my heart be harmony
Track Name: Rainbow
Together we are flying south
When you speak, it’s colorful
Rainbows emerge from your mouth
Reflections, mystical

Shards of glass
A broken day
Are we dreaming
Is this real
Deflects and bends and twists its way
Passage light will steal

We float through space and time
Flock together, fall apart
We are particles sublime
Showing glimpses of our hearts

Hope is forged with fragile things
Which you internalize
Without feathers, without wings
Let your story crystallize

All the dawns we’ll never see
In search of nourishment
Migration might set us free
Give rise to soul’s ascent

We soar through space and time
With the muscle in the chest
We are particles divine
Powers wings and all the rest