Artist: Andrew Bird
Album: Hands of Glory
Label: Mom and Pop
Release Date: 10-30-12
Andrew Bird has done it yet again. He has serenaded us with his violin-plucking, expert-whistling, ambient-sounding voice effects and skills. Acting as a sister album to his previous album Break It Yourself, Hands Of Glory compliments it in the sense that they are nothing alike. Break It Yourself was simply just another Andrew Bird album, while Hands of Glory takes his musical prowess to an entirely new level.
Hands of Glory does not mirror classic Andrew Bird style; it strays away from lots of violin and whistling solos, though those are inevitable in any of Bird’s albums. His whistling is portrayed in a much lighter sense than past albums and he has strayed away from his twangy violin string plucking.This album creates a sense of unity and camaraderie, not just between him and is fellow band members, but between them and the listener. Hands of Glory was recorded in a live setting, more specifically a church and a barn in his Illinois hometown. The record not only sounds like a group of makeshift cowboys jamming around the fire, but also like a cluster of musically talented hooligans recording in, well, a church.
The album starts off with his hit “Three White Horses”, beginning the storyline of the album with a strong bass line and background vocals. Bird begins it all with, “All you need is somebody to come when you die.” Next up comes his cover of the Handsome Family’s “When That Helicopter Comes” portraying a surreal world full of champagne rain and screaming trees. In his cover track (And my favorite on the album) “Spirograph,” Bird tells a story all in its own of a widow and her daughter, inconsolable and heartbroken over their husbands recent death.“Orpheo,” a re-invention of Break It Yourself’s track “Orpheo Looks Back” is horribly somber as well, creating a still and dismal feeling with its repeated line, “Cause it’ll drive you mad” and a low pitched violin in the background. Lastly, “Beyond the Valley of the Three White Horses” is a comforting blast from the past with its constant violin strumming and high-pitched background humming and whistling.
All in all I would like to say bravo, Mr. Bird. In my opinion, Hands of Glory is one of his best albums ever recorded. With it’s cozy and warm feeling, yet lonesome and dismal at the same time, the record has a soothing balance that one cannot explain without having it playing in the background. So Andrew Bird, I tip my hat to you and your matchless and irreplaceable spot in my heart.
Reviewed by Kacie Gin