Artist: Andrew Bird
Album: Hands of Glory
Release Date: October 30th, 2012
Reviewer: Carolyn Bernhardt – Station Manager
Review Date: January 15, 2013
Andrew Bird had a busy 2012! He started the year off with the release of his newest album, Break it Yourself, in March. A few months later, in October, Bird released Hands of Glory, which his official website (http://www.andrewbird.net/home/) calls “The musical companion to Break it Yourself.” A musical companion it may be, but Hands of Glory brings forward a previously less obvious side to Bird’s musicality.
Implementing more twang in his guitar playing and varying the sounds on his violin, Bird’s new album calls to mind a true American spirit. Andrew Bird starts off the album with “Three White Horses,” a calm cool and collected new track, which strikes the listener as less intricate than his typical work, but equally as lovely. After setting the tone for minimalism, he then moves to revisiting Break it Yourself with a more nostalgic American mindset, playing an acoustic and calmer version of “Orpheo Looks Back,” this time entitled simply “Orpheo.” In tracks like this one, Bird plays the fiddle, or plucks his violin, rather than playing the drawn out violin we’ve heard on previous albums.
From there, he brings us back to the folk days of Townes Van Zandt and “Railroad Bill,” reminding us of our folk-loving roots that cause us to gravitate toward Bird in the first place. As with his cover of Bob Dylan’s “Oh Sister” from his past album, Soldier On, we are reminded of Bird’s ability to pay tribute to folk singers of American past while still mixing in his own flair for the genre. Andrew Bird closes his album with “Beyond the Valley of the Three White Horses,” circling us back to the beginning of his album with a more lucid and drawn out tribute to his first track on the album.
In an eight-track, 35 minute nostalgic loop, Andrew Bird’s Hands of Glory acts as one large re-visit. With minimalism and fondness for folk as the tropes at it’s forefront, this new EP acts not only as a “musical companion” to Break it Yourself, but to our country’s folk music culture over the decades. A little piece of Andrew Bird’s influence is more deeply understood upon listening to Hands of Glory. While it may not break new ground or blaze a new trail, it forces us to look back on the one folk has made for our nation’s musical influence and history, as well as Bird’s. Take a moment to acknowledge and comprehend the development of folk, American music, and Andrew Bird. Listen to Hands of Glory