Ellynne Rey captures nature’s chorus on “The Birdsongs Project”


Singer and composer Ellynne Rey presents an album of songs that salutes birds. Released May 1, 2019, “The Birdsongs Project” is a follow-up to her debut, “A Little Bit of Moonlight.”

The album is a collection of original and cover tunes. An avid bird watcher, Rey was inspired to compile the titles of songs featuring birds, in addition to writing the original “Conversations With a Snowy Owl.”

To bring the project to life, Rey is joined by an ensemble of world-class players. The assembled musicians for “The Birdsongs Project” are Bennett Paster on keyboards, organ; Freddie Bryant on guitars; Joel Frahm on tenor saxophone and ocarina; Marcus McLaurine on bass; Joe Strasser on drums;  Alex Norris on trumpet and guest percussionist Jacquelene Acevedo.

Born in Connecticut, Rey has performed throughout New England and New York City. As both a singer and a songwriter, Rey is known for her ability to tell a story. Her writing and singing skills shine on “Conversations With a Snowy Owl.”

“Conversation with a Snowy Owl” by Ellynne Rey

“Conversation with a Snowy Owl” has a classic feel and sound. The up and down lilt of the rhythm makes the song more thoughtful than melancholy. Also, the rhythm makes an effective pairing with Rey’s voice. She sounds to be a mezzo soprano, and her voice is flexible and audiences find a pleasant surprise when Rey gets in all the phrasing in an unusual measure.

The song details the narrator encountering an owl. The soundscape invites listeners’ imaginations to soar. The soft vocalese that Rey gives just before the horn solo breaks up the song might remind some people of birds taking flight.

On “Conversation with a Snowy Owl” the bird that symbolizes wisdom imparts to the narrator that while only birds fly, those who walk on the ground can gain a similar feeling by opening up their hearts. The sentiment is simple, but beautiful at the same time.

The horn showcase allows the soundscape to delve into a classic jazz sound. The drums clatter gently, then tattoo heavily, the bass thumps, the piano shines and this continues to the end, after the last verse, and Rey treats listeners to more vocalese.

“The Birdsong Project” is lively and beautiful for its music and its stories. The album is likely to appeal to bird watchers and jazz fans alike.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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