Andrew Bird – Break It Yourself
Andrew Bird’s latest album ‘Break It Yourself’ sees the Chicago multi-instrumentalist return after his soundtrack for the film ‘Norman’. As usual, the Suzuki-trained Bird performs his usual array of sounds from afropop to indie; and blues to folk by way of jazz, bluegrass and classical. There will be comparisons with Paul Simon, given his influences and how his talents transform into the record we have here, but I would say he would sit comfortably among the pantheon of gods who resided in the Laurel Canyon in the early 70s. He reminds me more of artists like James Taylor, Neil Young, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell and Linda Ronstadt than some of his more successful peers.
The timing of the release of this album couldn’t be better; it’s a perfect soundtrack for the coming spring days, and the changes in style and tempo of the songs match the sudden swings from lovely sunny blue skies to sudden showers and cold snaps, never knowing what is coming next – it is always a joy as you discover something new.
The songs all seem to have a simple pop sensibility about them, but they belie the complexity that lies underneath, and Bird demonstrates this no better than on ‘Give It Away’, ‘Near Death Experience Experience’ and ‘Orpheo Looks Back’. ‘Give It Away’ pleads with us to consider getting away from it all; whether it’s a past love or modern life, he seems to think of a better life somewhere else. The lyrically playful ‘Near Death Experience Experience’ starts with a Morricone-style introduction while the late 60s sound effects and Stevie Winwood-style vocal give it a wonderful psychedelic feel. On ‘Orpheo Looks Back’ Bird takes us from a handclap-laden, organic bluegrass, folksy feel to a Middle Eastern twist.
Sadly we see too many bands of this genre getting the crossover success and the limelight; and where bands like Fleet Foxes, Paolo Nutini and Mumford and Sons have had their share of the spoil,s I can only hope that Andrew Bird finally gets a taste of success that his talents deserve. ‘Break It Yourself’ hopefully will do that for him.
Break It Yourself is out today on Bella Union and can be streamed in its entirety here.
Posted by Chris Hughes
Tags: 2012, album review, Andrew Bird, break it yourself, chrus hughes