I’ll admit it: I like Andrew Bird himself and find his creativity and talent inspiring, but I’ve had a hard time getting into Andrew Bird’s music. When I tried to just listen to him, I found myself liking “Imitosis”, “Heretics”… and that was about it. When I actually watched him play, by way of videos of live performances, I fell in love with a few more songs, like “Anonanimal” and the marvellously ungainly-titled “A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left”. While all the songs weren’t clicking with me, the ones that did click, clicked hard.
I previewed samples from a few of his albums and just wasn’t finding a whole album I felt like dropping a dime on… until I hit those first two Bowl of Fire albums – Thrills and Oh! The Grandeur – then it was Hot, damn! (On the third and final Bowl of Fire album, The Swimming Hour, switched gears, delving into a variety of pop styles. Bird refers to it as his “jukebox album”. ) If, like me just a week or so ago, you have no clue about the history of Mr. Bird before his ever-growing success as a solo artist, he spent some time contributing his beautiful bow-work to classic Squirrel Nut Zippers’ albums like Hot and Perennial Favorites. That hot jazz vibe must have sat very comfortably with Bird as he went on to form Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire – which was basically Kevin O’Donnell’s Quality Six led by Bird – and the first two albums under that moniker feature all the best elements of what the Zippers were laying down (along with a little help from Zippers Katherine Whalen and Jimbo Mathus), not the least of which was Bird’s evocative fiddle-playing.
The tune “Candy Shop” is a foot-stomper of the highest order. Bird’s trademark wordplay is already on display in tracks like “Minor Stab” about a man who can’t get along with his one-man band. And if a beautifully bowed piece like “Wait” doesn’t make you want to grab a lemonade and sit on the porch swing with your best gal or fella, then I’m not sure I even want to know you.