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Andrew Bird showcases violin, vocal skills

By Zarrin Ahmed
On March 7, 2012

Andrew Bird stays true to his usual melancholy tunes in his seventh solo album, "Break it Yourself," which dropped on March 6.

Bird began his studio album work with his talent in violin. Trained in the Suzuki method since the age of four, Bird graduated from Northwestern University with a bachelor's degree in violin performance. He self-released his first solo album in 1996 called "Music of Hair." Bird was involved in the bands Squirrel Nut Zippers and Bowl of Fire before Bird officially emerged as a solo artist. He signed to Fat Possum Records which produced several of his albums. "Break it Yourself" was produced by Mom+Pop and announced as a follow up to Bird's "Noble Beast" from 2009. He's influenced by classical, bluegrass, jazz, swing, calypso and folk music.

"Desperation Breeds …" kicks the album off with a melancholy and slow tune, simple guitar strumming and high pitched vocals. With the occasional drums and a pick up halfway through the song, it's just upbeat enough to not bore.

Showcasing his talent on violin in the next song, "Polynation" is a short stringed snippet. "Danse Caribe" takes on a more country tone with Bird's low voice backed by higher pitched vocals on select words. It wasn't something I really enjoyed, but "Give It Away", though similar in sound, made up for it with a catchy tune toward the end of the track.

"Eyeoneye" sticks to the same country sound with occasional sharp notes and a small whistling sequence. On a slower note, "Lazy Projector" is no misnomer – its sluggish sound is accompanied by long bowed violin notes and a sorrowful whistle tune. Bird's sing and jazz influences are easily heard in "Near Death Experience Experience," one of the catchier songs on the album in my opinion.

Like "Polynation," "Behind the Barn" is violin oriented. "Sifters," "Lusitania," and "Fatal Shore" follow in Bird's melancholy nature – slow and pained. "Orpheo Looks Back" and "Hole In the Floor" are a little more upbeat, though the violin parts in "Orpheo" are ones I could've done without. "Hole In The Floor" is a pretty instrumental tune that's relaxing but happy; something that reminds me of a sunny day out in the countryside.

The album ends with "Belles," a purely instrumental piece that sounds like a lullaby. I'm sure if you're looking for something soothing to put on repeat while falling asleep, "Belle" would do it for you.


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