It is hard to put a create a good definition of the music Andrew Bird is doing. It is folk, independent, a touch of rock and very often has a very strong instrumental part. Need more elements? Andrew Bird is releasing a Christmas album on 30th October 2020, simply called Hark! Here are my thoughts.
Andrew Bird – About The Artist
Andrew Wegman Bird was born on 11th July 1973 in Lake Forest in very Northern Illinois. Being a professional musician since 1996, he already released sixteen studio albums (hree of them with a band called Bird of Fire) and six live recordings and has taken part in countless releases of other artists. The two highlights of his career, undoubtedly, were his two Grammy Nomination, being a candidate for the Best Folk Album in 2020 (for My Finest Work Yet) and 2017 for the Best classic album, non-classical (Are You Serious). Before his professional career, he finished University with a bachlor’s degree in violin performance. His first commercial success was his seventh album Armchar Apocrypha, which made it to the 76th overall spot in the US charts and sold about 100,000 units in the US only. The two following albums, Noble Beast (2009) and Break It Yourself (2021) made it to the Top 12 of the US (overall) album charts. Outside the US, he has a certain fan base in France, where he regularly makes it into the album charts. His most famous song is likely Capsized from the Are You Serious album (US AAA charts #6)
Andrew Bird – Hark! – Track by Track
The thirteen song album lasts 44 minutes
The album starts with a track which John Cale made famous. The song does have a clear Andrew Bird style – but on the other hand, the backing choir gives a very traditional festive touch. Nice starter!
Alabaster is a song which Bird in fact already released during the last Christmas season.
Days are growing short
Nights are growing longer
You gotta get much stronger
To make it through
A very quiet, thoughtful song. Nice, framed by the Keep your lamp on at the beginning and end of the track.
The violin is quoting the Christmas classic What Child Is This, but the story is not a preferable festive one:
I had nothing to say on Christmas day
When you threw all your clothes in the snow
When you burnt your hair, and you knocked over chairs
I just tried to stay out of your way
But when you fell asleep
With blood on your teeth, I just got in my car and drove away
The story feels fragile, but not as dramatic, when Bird is narrating it his way. One of my favorites on the album.
4. Christmas in April
The promotion package I received with the album called this track maybe the first Covid-19 inspired Christmas song of the year. Shouldn’t we simply Jesus Christ’s birth by a couple of months this time? When Andrew Bird is whistling to that song, it feels like a good message.
Souvenirs almost feels like country Christmas track the way the fiddle is played in this one. The sound makes it a happy tune.
6. Oh Holy Night
Oh Holy Night is another classic Christmas track. Again, Bird does a very different version by just whistling to the guitar tunes. A very different version, but definitely a beauty. I am just asking myself if that is instrumental music or not…
7. Mille Cherubni in Coro
Another short track, less than two minutes – Andrew Bird has been inspired by his mother for that re-interpretation of the classic. Again, an instrumental interpretation, supported by whistling. A very special atmosphere – just makes you feel you should be quiet and listen to the music. Lovely.
8. Night’s Falling
But you’re not alone, no you’re not alone
That you’re not alone, no you’re not alone
This is one of the Christmas track, which Bird already released in 2019 – but which still seems to fit perfectly into 2020. Very typical Bird atmosphere.
The instrumental songs are very special elements in this album. So beautiful, so fragile, you enjoy to listen. Glad is one of them. Thank you for the music!
10. Christmas is Coming
Another no-vocal version of a Christmas classic – and as Christmas is Coming has a touch of blues, I just feel that this one is just very special. Love it!
11. White Christmas
You simply cannot do a Christmas album without this super-classic – can you? Again, Andrew Bird, his guitar and his whistling gives the holiday a very different touch, very easy. Somehow promising after all the worries we had in 2020.
This instrumental interpretation is another festive beauty. You may not sing-a-long to Skating, but I am sure you enjoy it.
13. Auld Lang Syne
The album concludes with a festive classic, played with the guitar and violin. The sound is very rhythmic and quick, which leads to a very unique and characteristic interpretation. Not bad at all.
Andrew Bird – Hark! – Spotify
Here is the Spotify widget to the album:
Andrew Bird – Hark! – My View
There are Christmas albums which somehow prepare you to the holidays. You might listen to them in your car – and long before Santa is climbing down the chimney, you are already pissed about Last Christmas or All I Want For Christmas Is You. Then, there are the typical sing-with-your-family albums on Christmas day, typically containing the classics like Silent Night. Hark! is neither of these types of Christmas albums. I think it is a real beauty under the Christmas tree – just by listening to it, it will increase your festive mood when you are with your family – even though there are both, good and bad Christmas stories. I feel you will enjoy Christmas, Andrew Bird style. Give him a try.