Andrew Bird: Hands of Glory
Prolific songwriter and instrumentalist Andrew Bird‘s most recent release may provide the perfect come down to the decadent and bizarre year of our Lord 2012. The timing is nothing short of succinct given recent and on-going events. After watching the nation boil under election year excesses, a late term hurricane which wrought a dose of much needed reality to the insular societies of New York/New Jersey, and the nation’s impending nose dive from the fiscal cliff the sober delivery and melodic accompaniment on Hands of Glory, make it a fine album to waste away the end of days.
Far from your ordinary musician Mr. Bird was classically trained from a young age in the Suzuki method before taking a degree in Violin Performance. Branching out into popular music platforms in addition to the half dozen instruments mastered, Hands of Glory, is his sixth full length studio in the past decade.
Death knell opener “Three White Horses,” spares no time in setting the tone and theme for the work. Wavering above a muddy acoustic rhythm Mr. Bird’s emotive vocals flutter along both sides of the register recounting the isolation of ending. That ‘ending,’ is left open to interpretation. Like much of the album, the lyrics are resplendent with imagery and metaphor adding a level of depth absent from many modern works. However taken, the emotional resonance of the first track carries over into the subsequent listing to create a pleasing continuity and work-as-a-whole feel.
Nothing is more appropriate than a bit of drear in the depths of winter, and while a cursory listen might incline one to believe Hands of Glory a downer album, it could be consider sad in the vein of a Steinbeck novel. It isn’t necessarily a tragedy, rather it deals with weightier subjects like loss, death and grief in a stoical manner incorporating lyrical back-story and character interaction to add dimension and empathy to that which would otherwise be considered over-done subject matter.
Despite his classical training, or perhaps because of it, there is a noticeable absence of ego to be found on this recent work. Mr. Bird avoids the first person point of view for the majority of the album and the language of the songwriting is a cut above the standard pop music repertoire. Featuring references to biblical, classical, and geometric mechanization the songs appeal to both the emotional and intellectual faculties of the audience and provides the perfect company over those long wintry nights.
MP3: Andrew Bird “Three White Horses”
Buy: iTunes or Insound! vinyl