Published Jun 02, 2014Andrew Bird is one of those guys who have to make music. Trained in the Suzuki method since he was able to hold a violin, he has appeared on multiple releases every year since the mid-'90s, from his myriad solo albums and his work with Bowl of Fire and Squirrel Nut Zippers to his collaborations with Dosh, the Muppets and anyone else who needed a little extra soul in the strings department. His latest project, Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of… is a full album's worth of covers of the Handsome Family, an alt-country band that has basically released an album every other year since forming in 1993.
Bird's violin previously graced a few tracks on the Handsome Family's 2000 album In the Air, and he covered their song "Don't Be Scared" on his Righteous Babe debut Weather Systems in 2003, so it's safe to assume he knows their music fairly well. The proof, for sure, is in the album, on which Bird freshens up his take on "Don't Be Scared" and adds his perspective on the Family's "Far From Any Road" (also the theme to HBO's True Detective) alongside selections culled from across their catalogue.
Realized with the help of Bird's fabulous backing band, the Hands of Glory, the arrangements on Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of… are ornate and thoughtful, highlighting both the brilliant Americana song writing of the originals and the sweetly soulful execution of Bird and his band. It's a natural fit; if you didn't know they weren't his songs, you might not have guessed. (Wegawam Music)