Creativity imbues the life of songwriter and vocalist, Kirsty Almeida. From caringly crafting her albums and live performances, to fostering social enterprise and mentoring her fellow creatives, each facet of the Gibraltarian artist’s career reflects the sanctity and magic of art and self-expression.
Signed to Decca before she became a mother, Kirsty performed with the likes of Lisa Hannigan, Krystle Warren and Vashti Bunyan for Way To Blue the Nick Drake Tour, as well as composing for major motion picture films Albatross and Patagonia.
“For me, playing and singing is like going through a portal to the healthiest, happiest, most powerful, gentle and magical version of myself,” Kirsty expresses.
She creates music for herself, rather than envisaging its audience. Feeling like a vessel for the songs that she releases, her perspective leads to honest, warm and enduring music.
Living in the hills in the North of England provides the perfect backdrop for musical inspiration as well as laying down roots in an atmosphere that resonates with her spirituality and stirs her appreciation of nature. It is there that she and her backing band, The Troubadours, have played many a memorable and intimate show. It is there that she has made a lasting impact with several community-oriented projects, and most importantly, started a family.
Kirsty is known to many as a whirlwind of powerful creativity; nominated for the ‘Person With Purpose’ Award and the prestigious ‘Entrepreneur of The Year’ for the Northern Power Women’s Awards for her Creative Conscious Centre, The Wonder Inn.
The Wonder Inn was a 7000ft derelict building Kirsty took on with nothing but a credit card, a three-month-old baby, a head full of ideas and a heart full of passion, she turned it into Manchester’s most talked about Independent venue, where even Kendrick Lamar came to perform.
From dub orchestras, free jazz residencies, Music As Medicine, to the international Beat Poet’s conference, baby boogie and indigenous leaders shamanic gatherings, Kirsty provided a very beautiful venue for all creatives to come and make magic. The Wonder Inn ran sadly closed its doors in 2017 after it ran for three successful years, due to redevelopment motives.
This prompted Kirsty to return to her first love of songwriting, whilst also becoming a lecturer and Curriculum creator at Leeds Conservatoire in Songwriting and Music Business.
Her new album Moonbird reflects the entirety of her creative experience. It’s mature songcraft – deceptively simple, with a worldly wisdom – represents an artist reborn.
Almeida enlisted GRAMMY award-winning engineers Jerry Boys (Buena Vista Social Club/Toumani Diabaté) and Greg Calbi (John Mayer, Norah Jones and Bon Iver) to mix and master the LP. The album cover shot was taken by iconic Rock Archive photographer Jill Furmanovsky (Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, The Clash).
‘This album debuts the real me,’ Almeida states, ‘the warrior, the artist, the wizard, the girl, the broken, the found and the re-birthed.’
‘Leftfield genre crossing maverick’ Guitarist Magazine (Jan 2020) Singer-songwriter Kirsty Almeida announces first album in five years, Moonbird to be released 02.02.2020
“Captivates you immediately, it’s absolutely gorgeous!”
Janice Long, BBC Wales – Jan 2020 listen here (2h40) “Hypnotic and heart-skipping” Acoustic Magazine – Jan 2020
“This is absolutely great!’ Guy Garvey on playing Moonbird for 6Music May 2020
“★★★★★” Gibraltar Chronicle Newpaper March 2020
“★★★★ a sophisticated collection of songs” Rock ‘n’ Reel Magazine – Jan 2020
“Almeida’s voice is indeed one of unquestionable beauty – perfect control, and harbouring a just-below-the-surface sense of fire and passion.”
Fatea Records Magazine – Jan 2020
‘…a gorgeous album immersed in a warm suffusion of light and positivity. Breathe deep.’
Folk Radio Jan 2020
“Rather lovely” Jan 2020 – Bob Fischer, BBC Tees – Jan 2020 listen here (1h18)
“A hypnotising voice and beautiful track” Jan 2020
Jenny Summers, BBC Merseyside
“It’s been on in my car all weekend” Jan 2020
Stephanie Hirst, BBC Leeds
“Poised and graceful, yet immensely powerful” Feb 2020
Louder Than War
“Women’s Choice Track”
Iain Anderson, BBC Radio Scotland Feb 2020
Currently based in the North of England, the Gibraltarian returns with new creative vigour following a short recording hiatus, which saw her devoting time to her young family. Influenced by the experience of motherhood, an innate love of storytelling and affinity with the natural world, Almeida’s ten-song collection exhibits accomplished song-craft, rich arrangements and exquisite production.
Recorded between a variety of studios, including John Ellis’ Limefield studio, 80 Hertz, Pinhole Sound and Low Four Studios at Manchester’s Old Granada studios, the album sees the former Decca artist enlisting the services of GRAMMY award-winning engineers Jerry Boys and Greg Calbi to record, mix and master the LP.
‘This album debuts the real me,’ Almeida states, ‘the gentle warrior, the artist, the wizard, the child, the girl, the woman, the mother, the lover, the broken, the found and the re-birthed.’
Title track Moonbird uncovers psychedelia within a serene soundscape, while I’m Going to Love You encapsulates the sound of the New Orleans saloon or Hootenanny celebration. Josie Brown, a blue but uplifting first-person account of an elderly childhood mentor, captures the warmth of Kirsty’s voice and guitar playing, embellished with dustings of acoustic piano and delicately-placed strings, elevating the humble song to glorious heights. Hearing it for the first time, musician and producer Martin Glover, aka. Youth, commented: ‘If that’s a true story you’re a very good songwriter and if it’s not, you’re a f**king genius.’
Kirsty’s love of 18th and 19th century parlour guitars also informs her songwriting. Instruments crafted for women that reflect femininity, they lend what Kirsty terms an ‘indescribable magic’ to songs like You Make My Heart. Parlour guitars aren’t the only captivating stringed instruments in use, however, as John Haycock’s West African kora adds light, regal melodies to the subtly arranged Step into the Light.
‘I am so thankful to the musicians who made this album with me,’ Almeida professes. ‘They poured their beautiful musicality into the album and helped me build my wings with their encouragement. I am more me than I ever have been and this album is my most honest offering to date.’
The singer who gave the world a wondrous collection of winter songs here eschews the darkness of wintertide, bringing light and positivity to the fore. ‘I feel like the last five years of my life was a journey into the darkest places in me’ Kirsty explains, ‘bringing light to the most painful places I never even knew existed ‘til post nap depression and PTSD cracked me open, so I could become the best version of me. Now, I’m healthier and happier than I ever was before and I have such a new appreciation of music and my relationship with it.’ Almeida returns an artist reborn, creating her finest work to date.
Moonbird released in digital and CD formats from 02.02.2020.
“Moonbird, I’ve heard, you hold the password, to make the moon glow.” — Moonbird, Kirsty Almeida