Earlier this year, Andrew Bird dropped Break It Yourself, a swelling and soaring sixth effort filled with classically mined orchestrations. On Hands of Glory, the EP “accompaniment” to Break It, Bird proves himself equally impressive in country mode. In place of his signature violin, here Bird adopts the fiddle, delivering eight swooning originals and covers. Lead single “Three White Horses” kicks the whole thing off with a breezy, lap steel-backed barnyard waltz. At the forefront, Bird’s rich tenor navigates the space between Arcade Fire grandiosity and Ryan Adams sure-footedness. A cover of The Handsome Family’s “When the Helicopter Comes” follows, nicely mixing Bird’s squealing fiddle work with a bouncy cowboy swing. Later, a cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “If I Needed You” opens with a violin run that beautifully merges Bird’s signature sound with something slightly more rustic. Still, it’s closing track “Beyond the Valley of the Three White Horses” that brings Hands of Glory home. Clocking in at just over nine minutes, the song is an intricate peek into Bird’s curious world, where every bow, pluck, and breathy sigh seems both emotionally wrought and perfectly placed.
Hands of Glory