Andrew Bird: Noble Beast (Fat Possum)

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Andrew Bird: Not a Robot, but a Ghost
Andrew Bird: Noble Beast (Fat Possum)

Multi-instrumentalist and musical chameleon Bird has been an impossible character to pin down: in a good way.

As mentioned at the time his Armchair Apocrypha -- which was one of the Best of Elsewhere 2007 albums -- he navigated his way from a bent, back-alley jazz with hints of Tom Waits and searing violin, to a kind of alt.rock/country-noir territory and these days has more in common with Teddy Thompson, Rufus Wainwright and Josh Ritter and other smart, musically ambitious singer-songwriters on the periphery of rock-pop culture. But this guy can also whistle like a theremin.

For this typically eclectic album (full of lyrical ambiguities) he moves closer to the musical landscape of that last Thompson album which means it is by turns poppy yet there are discreet elements of cabaret, light opera (he's had classical training), country music, Anglofolk and blues. But as with Thompson, Bird makes something of his own out of this which is much more than the sum of influences.

If Armchair Apocrypha was, he says, "erratic and ecstatic", this one is more immediate in its appeal. (If it was a dark and complex novel, this is a collection of cleverly framed short stories).

With subtle production and slightly unnerving sonic effects (percussion, that whistling, the violin) this could be the album that takes the gifted Bird to a wider audience.

Let's hope so, he has avoided the radar for far too long. 

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bigROBOTbill - Jan 19, 2009

truly sublime, clean lovely beautiful!

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