Andrew Bird has fallen back to grass roots in his latest album. “Hands of Glory,” released at the end of October, is Andrew Bird’s second full length album this year, an accompanying album to March’s “Break it Yourself.” Several of the songs on the album are very raw, seemingly recorded live, which speaks volumes to Andrew Birds musicianship and song crafting abilities. Compared to “Break it Yourself,” “Hands of Glory” is simple, not nearly as progressive, but still characteristic to Andrew Bird. The first three songs of the album tie nicely into “Break it Youself,” however the second half of the album is stripped raw and reminds me of grass roots folk from another era.
“Three White Horses” opens “Hands of Glory” with beautiful harmonies, haunting slide guitar, an eerie violin interlude, and a powerful progression, similar to songs on “Break it Yourself.” Next Andrew Bird Covers The Handsome Family’s “When the Helicopters Come.” Despite being a simple folk song with an alternating bass line, the song still manages to be experimental and somewhat psychedelic, fitting the apocalyptic subject matter. Spirograph, perhaps the highlight of the album is a truly beautiful song and perhaps the final song on “Hands of Glory” that draws similarity to “Break it Yourself.”
“Railroad Bill,” a Carter Family cover, is a stark contrast to the first three songs of the album. There really is no transition into the raw, bluegrass style of the second half of the album starting off with Railroad Bill. Don’t get me wrong, I love bluegrass, and will listen to this song many times in the future, it’s a fun song, but there is no denying it comes out of left field. Something Biblical, brings the album slightly back to where it began, but is still more blue grassy. Andrew Birds violin at the songs close is beautiful.
Orpheo and Andrew Bird’s cover of Town Van Zandt’s “If I Needed You” are again more raw and folksy, but nonetheless beautiful. The album closes with, “Beyond the Valley of the Three White Horses” a beautiful tear jerking instrumental.
While “Hands of Glory” may not be Andrew Bird’s most cohesive album,
it is overall enjoyable and beautiful. The first half of the album sounds like outtakes from “Break it Yourself,” while the second half goes in an entirely different direction. Regardless, Andrew Bird, has sustained himself as one of the best singer songwriters.