As you listen to New England-based singer-songwriter Hayley Sabella’s second full-length album, Forgive the Birds, quiet passages transform to the sounds of wind, rain, or even ocean waves. Her sound slithers between ethereal folk music to Americana, often depending on her accompaniment. It’s rather easy to hear how she wrote these ten tunes alone on her vintage hollow body Gibson but the songs have clever and rather unique instrumentation as well as what she refers to as “Noise” or “Aux Noise’ courtesy of producer Daniel Radin or keyboardist Karl Anderson. Sabella’s alto vocals are a pleasant listen alone but Radin and engineer Harris Paseltiner of the Boston-based band Darlingside have framed her voice beautifully with the wide range of instruments including strings (violin/viola/cello), multiple kinds of guitars, keyboards, pump organ and harmonies.
Glide premiered the second track, the pop-laden single,“Turn Around” in late January. Given the dreary winter here in the Northeast, which is still going on into late April, the meaning of this song in Sabella’s words really hits the right sentiment – “Turn Around” studies those cold, wet, windy weeks when you start to doubt mild weather will ever come back to Massachusetts. While winter allows you to settle in and introspect, by March, you’ve gathered all of this latent creative energy, and when winter lingers too long (as it always does on the northeastern coast) spring comes with this restless, overeager quality to it. This song attempts to harness that excited frustration.”
Much of Sabella’s thought process is informed from her work as a farmer, having settled in Plymouth, MA. The changing seasons and colors she experiences in that setting give her a sense of belonging and roots that she didn’t have growing up. You’ll hear similar natural imagery in “Cape Cod” and in “Roman Ocean.” Yet, Sabella tackles the more universal themes of relationships and love too. “Put You at Ease” looks at characteristics she inherited from her parents (more on that below) and how those attributes affect current relationships. “Father’s Clothes” looks at acceptance and the closer, “Love Is A Chisel” is an interesting way of describing how love shapes and forms us. Another outstanding sequence is the soaring “Maria” followed by the quiet strings-driven “Proud.”
As the daughter of musicians and missionaries, Sabella spent the formative years of her childhood in Central America. Naturally, music became a tool through which she could make sense of the world and put down roots, despite a lingering feeling of displacement. As such, the changing seasons may be symbolic of the conflicts she’s seen even at early ages – vulnerability and strength, death and rebirth, pain and love. Gleaning from some of the song titles like “Proud” and “If I Reach,” the album reflects personal growth too. She’s got a great sound with a relaxed delivery that seems to calmly assuage conflicts and rootlessness. You can feel her inspiration.