Dan Vidmar has had a change of heart.
It was just a few years ago that Vidmar, under his moniker Shy Girls, vocalized his apprehension about letting love in on "Trivial Motion," the anti-love slow burner from Shy Girls' 2017 album, Salt. "I'm not a Romeo/My pyre is spent," Vidmar coos.
Despite his stage name, Vidmar's lyrics are rarely coy about what he's going through at the time. His first mixtape, his singles and, most of all, Salt are all linked by a distaste for romance, and are shrouded by heartbreak. The chorus of Vidmar's soft, jazzy breakout single, "I'm Still Not Falling," is as blunt as it gets: "I'm still not falling for you/I'm just here waiting for your side."
That makes Vidmar's latest album as Shy Girls a stark shift. On Bird on the Wing, the Portland musician swaps his prior "fuck love" stance for one of receptiveness. It's an awakening that suits him musically, too. Vidmar's lighter mood brings textured brightness to his formerly brooding discography. His bedroom electro-pop has bloomed into blissed-out, atmospheric R&B.
The album offers a different side of Vidmar's emotional and sonic sensibilities. His sound is still rooted in R&B, but it's warmer and more fleshed out this time around. Album opener "Drain" is chill, subtle, pleasant and loosely neo-soul. The song's slinky bass beat drops sensuality into the flow of the album from its first jump. Then, Bird on the Wing slides into "Hallelujah," which sounds like the classic Maxwell track "Ascension," especially Vidmar's vocal foray toward the end.
But Bird on the Wing isn't just R&B tropes with some funky twists. "Lacy Boy" mixes in a bit of indie-psych, while "Stay Home" includes elements of psychedelia and a funk bass line. It's evident that Vidmar has expanded not just his worldview, but also the array of sounds he sprinkles throughout the record.
The album's penultimate song, "What Do You Do When You've Found Love?" directly asks the question at the apex of Shy Girls' previous output and his current sound. "What do you do when you've found love?/What do you do when it's easy?" he repeats in his breathy falsetto.
Vidmar doesn't exactly provide an answer. The closest he gets to a conclusion are the only lines in the song that aren't more questions: "I'll always be racing/And I'll always look at you like you looked at me the first time." Still, it's something Vidmar may have shied from even thinking about on past albums. On Bird on the Wing, he's comfortable enough to let it reverberate.
SEE IT: Shy Girls plays Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell St., wonderballroom.com, with Akua, on Saturday, April 20. 8 pm. $17 advance, $20 day of show. All ages.