Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire Oh! The Grandeur

Because of his day job as touring violinist with the Squirrel Nut Zippers, you might get the wrong impression of Andrew Bird, just as that misunderstood ragtime band somehow got lumped into a corny swing revival. Bird’s solo project, Bowl of Fire, creates beautiful, evocative and dramatic music that is often rather hard to dance to. There’s the occasional number with some zip, like the opener “Candy Shop” or the Latin-tinged “Coney Island Shuffle,” and there is also a prevalent calypso influence to the proceedings, but Bird’s virtuoso violin work and the delicate accompaniment of his bang-up band create music more tailored to lazy, love struck summer days filled with lemonade than to irony-laden lemmings looking for a shindig. Like the Zippers, it’s more ’20s than ’50s. Recorded with no more than two microphones, the performances and songs shine in their natural, intoxicating splendour. Finally, the hilarious liner notes — in antique typography — should not be overlooked. (Rykodisc)