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Published on May 2nd, 2019 | by voxx

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Andrew Bird – My Finest Work Yet

Twelve albums in, the singer-songwriter hits his peak…

Some years before Ed Sheeran made the loop pedal fashionable, Illinois’ Andrew Bird was using one onstage to wow crowds with live-created cycles of violin and his trademark whistling. But up until now Bird’s deep and varied catalogue – this is his 12th solo album – has really only been appreciated by serious devotees. His tongue is clearly poking into his cheek with the title, but My Finest Work Yet is definitely a high watermark, and one that deserves to reach a bigger audience.

The whistling is back within seconds on opener ‘Sisyphus’, but what follows is largely an album of obliquely political folk/soul. The seemingly impotent left-wing politics of today are addressed in the quietly empowering ‘Bloodless’, while ‘Archipelago’ calls for cooler heads to prevail in our current state of mass, foaming hate. Way more pop than Bird’s previous records, with a distinct footing in the late-’60s era of singer-songwriters, there are flashes of Van Morrison, Bill Withers, Glen Campbell and the groovesome orchestral recordings of David Axelrod.

You’re never quite sure what’s around the corner here, whether it be smart lyrical references to anyone from J Edgar Hoover to the fascists of the Spanish Civil War, or the way that ‘Don The Struggle’ suddenly lurches from a slow New Orleans-y beat into a frenetic Latino passage that could have been lifted from Bernstein’s West Side Story. The Bees’ frontman Paul Butler does a superb job of the production too, with its warm, old-school atmosphere. After years of operating in the background, it looks like Andrew Bird is ready for his close-up.

- By Jake White


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