Hands of Glory seems to be a rather abrupt release that came from left field;
it’s almost as much as an EP as it is an LP by Andrew Bird’s standards. At 35
minutes long (a quarter of that time being a lengthy instrumental), one could
assume that is an unfinished product. It was also released within the same year
as his lengthy album Break It Yourself, which came out this spring. Of
course, that does not diminish Hands of Glory’s quality in the
slightest, especially considering his last album before this year was Noble
Beast in 2009. The two 2012 albums have a vastly different sound; Break It
Yourself, while unalike Bird’s past albums, uses much more of his traditional
whistling and pop-style production. Hands of Glory sounds like it was
inspired by his barn along the banks of the Mississippi River, and has a much
more acoustic and less produced style.
White Horses” begins the album with a haunting bass line, in which Andrew Bird
sings a grim tale of death and despair. This melodic track is one to write home
about, and its nine minute instrumental reprise “Beyond the Valley of the Three
White Horses” in succession is a great compliment. The reprise has a lot of
depth on its own and ends the album in a gorgeous manner. “Something Biblical”
is a standout track that contains some fantastic violin work from Bird, as well
as fantastic ending solo.
of the tracks on Hands of Glory are covers of country songs. One of
those songs is “When That Helicopter Comes,” another lyrically dark song with a
cool Wild West feel. I tend to visualize a Breaking Bad montage of
Walter White and Jesse Pinkman escaping from the D.E.A. who are chasing after
them in helicopters whenever I give the song a listen. Another country cover
is “Railroad Bill,” a somewhat out-of-place track as it is a little more upbeat
then the rest of the album. However, I imagine it will be a fun jam to dance to
if one were to catch one of Bird’s shows.
with its peculiar characteristics, I will have to say my fellow Illinoisan has
once again created a work of art that is one to behold. Hands of Glory speaks
to Andrew Bird’s wide array of abilities, and I hope he continues to experiment
with the album’s style in the future.