Around this time of year, I start feeling really folky. Maybe it’s because I’ve always dreamed of being one of those people that sits in a semi circle in front of a crackling fire with a guitar and sings to my family whilst they harmonise over the top. Anywho, my point is folk music has the ability to transport you to a forest with snow-laden trees, which in my eyes is the exact vibe that a lot of us are missing right now. This is particularly true of Andrew Bird’s 2014 album “Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of…”, which is a collection of covers of his friends ‘the Handsome Family’.
The songs themselves are fascinating in their eccentricity and randomness. “Drunk By Noon” tells the story of a poodle who wanted to be a cowboy, whilst “The Giant of Illinois” dies from a blister on his toe. Despite this weirdness, the songs manage to cover some significant and serious themes. Bird’s clear voice is at times emotional and at others playful and joking. Lightheartedness often turns quickly into sombre reflection, as Bird chronicles the stories of outsiders and misfits.
The folky vibes on this album are just right and bridge the gap between full on traditional music and a more contemporary alternative acoustic sound. Highlights include “The Sad Milkman”, which is an example of the perfect mix of wit and serious thought that characterises the album; “Tin Foiled” which provides some powerful comments on the fragility of the universe; and “Drunk By Noon”, one of the most poignant on the album, which includes the enduring line “If my life lasted only one day,/I’d still be drunk by noon”.
I highly recommend listening to this album with a cup of tea in hand and your thinking hat on. It has the potential to make you smile, cry and think deeply all at the same time (so don’t wear too much mascara.) Ultimately, the harmonies, the violins, the picking and the subtle drums combine to make a beautiful album that tries just hard enough and cares just too little. So feast your ears on this holiday treat, it will be the best present you receive ever (and way more practical than a tangerine in the stocking).
Joy and good tidings,