Andrew Bird- Noble Beast
I would venture to say that Andrew Bird is one of the most complex artists in the music scene today. And I am not just referring to the names of his songs (but they are all doozies). What I love about Bird, this album and most of his previous efforts, is his ability to carve out his own niche in the music industry with little regard for what’s happening in Top 40 radio. His incorporation of classical violin training, his love of folk and jazz and his remarkable whistling ability creates a sound that is hard to rival.
With a voice reminiscent of Rufus Wainwright minus the melodramatics and lyrics that are nothing if not challenging, Andrew Bird seems to wage a war between materialism and nature with hisNoble Beast. And after the roughly 60 minute listen, it seems Nature is declared the victor in this sweeping album. With songs that tend to sound more like poetry with their alliteration and rhyme schemes than pop ballads, Bird brings the listener along for a magical trip into the landscapes of his imagination, and our bags are packed before the first track has ended.
The strength of this album, in my opinion, is Bird’s ability to compose these individual songs that become almost mini folk operas. My favorite example of this is “Anonanimal” which feels like three unique chapters with its tempo and mood changes. The way he marries the different tempos and beats might seem forced from any other artist, but this flows beautifully leaving the listener wishing for longer cuts of each section. You get that same feeling from “Not a Robot, But a Ghost” which feels like a trip to an exotic country where you are constantly being taken on detours, but each new landscape proves more beautiful than the one before.
I delayed my purchase of this album, which was released in late January, because I wanted to wait until I had enough time to give it my full attention. It would be difficult to appreciate the intricacies of Bird’s music by keeping it strictly background; which is not to say that it wouldn’t be a perfect addition to a dinner party playlist, because it would. It’s just that once you have experienced Bird’s music, you appreciate the subtlety of what he is doing. As for me, it only took about 2 full listens before I knew it would be on my list for 2009; it’s just that good.
A wise friend told me that you have never really heard an artist until you have heard them live, and while I have my tickets purchase for Bird’s Chapel Hill concert in October, I have only ever seen videos of his live performances. Based on what I have seen, I don’t plan on being disappointed.
Listen: Fits & Dizzyspells