With 2012’s Hands of Glory Andrew Bird laid the foundations of being a key figure in modern Americana. On his latest release, a collection of covers of songs by cult husband and wife duo Brett and Rennie Sparks, aka The Handsome Family, he is now firmly part of the American roots furniture.
The Handsome Family, which has more than 20 years touring and releasing under their belt, have long been admired by Bird, who has previously covered their track Don’t Be Scared. The duo are also an act that are now getting even wider acclaim after their song Far From Any Road became the title track for the HBO series True Detective.
Bird’s love of their music is clear with his beautiful voice and violin picking adding a sufficiently different quality to Sparks’ tracks. Far From Any Road appears here, as does an updated version of Don’t Be Scare.
Tin Foiled is particularly good, conveying its freight train rhythm perfectly. His version of Giant of Illinois is another stand out and will be a familiar cover to those who own 2009’s excellent compilation Dark Was The Night.
Even though Bird is still a master of almost any genre, from jazz to classical to pop, in recent years it is clear that American roots music is where his greatest achievements may lie.
by Joe Lepper