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Rock/pop

Andrew Bird: My Finest Work Yet

My Finest Work Yet
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    From his early Suzuki method training starting at age four, to his stints with hot jazz/swing revivalists Squirrel Nut Zippers and bandleader of his Bowl of Fire group, followed by a dozen studio albums, Andrew Bird’s musical career is nothing if not eclectic. The violin virtuoso/whistler extraordinaire’s latest, the ironically titled (or not) My Finest Work Yet is also his most politically outspoken yet. On the downbeat bluesy “Bloodless” he sings in call and response of “an uncivil war” and apathy (“Bloodless for now / The gentry’s drinking Moët-Chandon”). Bird’s lovely five-string violin bowing and pizzicato and pretty piano flourishes—and yes, his signature whistling—shine a little light on the arrangement’s acoustic drums-and-bass groove. Though steeped in 60s soul, Beatles, and jazz influences, the 10 tracks sound fresh with melodies catchy, moody, or unexpected. Sweet harmonies abound, often complemented by witty wordplay. Recorded live in the studio(s), the band’s instruments blend and layer naturally; occasional room echo and ambiance come through, lending a more authentic feel and supporting the 60s vibe. If not Bird’s finest work yet, it ranks highly, merits a long listen, and just might earn him a broader following.

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