Thursday, 2 July 2009

He regresado compañeros

If I could afford it I would go to Way Out West in Göteborg this summer to see Patrick Wolf. He cancelled at the Oxford Union after feeling too intimidated to speak there. I don't blame him, seeing as the likes of the Dalai Lama, Winston Churchill, Mother Teresa, former US Presidents Nixon, Carter and Reagan as well as Albert Einstein have spoken there.

Today I am considering the overlooked past of American folk musician Andrew Bird. Bird is mostly known for his single performance as Andrew Bird yielding fantastic tracks like Masterfade, but there is more to come for with the 1990's band Andrew Bird's Bowl Of Fire.
Andrew Bird is a multi-instrumentalist, and he utilizes this in his favour with Bowl Of Fire, incorporating jazzy instruments like the trumpet with violins and percussion.

The first album to look at is Thrills from 1998. The music is a mixture of 1930's Django Reinhardt gypsy jazz with modern elements of folk music. Bird is a skilled troubadour and makes use of this, too.

The main track of the album is Minor Stab, which in my opinion takes on Django's famed track Minor Swing. The trumpet sounds exquisite, and Bird's vocals (which is where the song departs from Reinhardt's style of no vocal incorporation) are narrative and charming. An instant classic.

Somepeople was an angry thin skinned man
Couldn't get along with his one man band
Quarter stick rocket and nails in his pocket
And a crying shame, Somepeople is his name

Poor Old Pierrot Somepeople
What an unfortunate name
Some people have the low down notion
That he is the one to blame

The other track to highlight is Eugene. There is a Cuban jazzy feel over the track. Once again Bird's narrative vocals strike a resemblance with the likes of Jamie Cullum and the whole 1990's jazz revival movement.

Bird also takes up old Swedish folk music in the track Swedish Wedding March. This follows in the tradition of the likes of Romanticist composer Johan August Söderman's Bröllopet på Ulfåsa.

Overall, a swingy album with lots to come for. Definitely part of the better side of the tragic decade of the 90's when it comes to music.

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