Andrew Bird’s Weather Systems
Producer/engineer: Mark Nevers (Lambchop, Will Oldham)
Grimsey Records: April 1, 2003
Righteous Babe Records: June 10, 2003
1 First Song
7. Weather Systems
8. Don’t Be Scared
A little update on the latest album. Wouldn’t want anyone to miss it.
Okay. So you don’t like that whole hot jazz/new swing thing even when it’s done well. That’s fine. You don’t have to. Bird’s ditched the swing, lost the Bowl, and gone solo on Weather Systems, his fourth LP to date. After finishing up The Swimming Hour, Bird converted a barn in Illinois into a recording studio, holed up inside, and set to work creating this, his most exquisite album to date. Perhaps there’s something to that Walden nonsense about withdrawing from society because, after all his wild experimentations in style (glorious in themselves of course), Bird seems to have found himself. And it’s a beautiful, beautiful self.
The first thing you’ll notice on Weather Systems is that in addition to playing the violin, singing, songwriting, and just generally looking beautiful, Bird is quite the accomplished whistler. Between that and the glockenspiel, the ubiquitous tape looping, the fragile harmonies, the delicate pizzicato, and the grace of Bird's schooled articulation, you're in for an other-worldly experience.
This isn't to say there's nothing familiar. Old fans will still find all the characteristic quirkiness they’ve come to expect from Bird. It's just mellower this time, more nuanced. Even at this album’s most playful (say Lull or Action/Adventure) there’s a dreamy, wistful quality to every line. Bird seems, well, lonely. This is transportive music. Eerie, potent, powerful stuff. An album to listen to while watching trees during a storm. Or just laying on the floor staring at the ceiling (no one's too old for this).
From the dangerously sexy I to the achingly beautiful Don’t Be Scared , Weather Systems is Andrew Bird at his best. My only complaint is the one I always have about Bird's albums. They're never long enough.
Bonus: Weather Systems also includes a short documentary on Bird from director Robert Trandson. This is not too exciting except that it gives us the opportunity to ogle
the artist and imagine what it must be like inside his strange and muddled and beautiful brain.
Keep a weather eye out for Bird's fifth album, due to be released in early 2005.