Sound Advice: Andrew Bird with Gabriel Kahane (Sept. 14)

Andrew Bird brings a whimsical mix of Folk and Pop to the Madison Theater.

click to enlarge Andrew Bird - Photo: Addie Juell
Photo: Addie Juell
Andrew Bird
It seems like Andrew Bird has been around forever. Sure, he’s been on the cultural radar for 20 years now — first as a contributor to the Squirrel Nut Zippers, then through his current run as a prolific solo artist — but it probably has more to do with the timeless nature of his music, a crafty, often whimsical mix of Folk and Pop that seems as if it could have been released at any point over the last 50 years.

The Chicago native’s latest full-length, Are You Serious, again melds Bird’s interest in Classical music — he studied violin performance at Northwestern University — with more conventional Pop structures. But this time there’s a more nakedly personal aspect to his lyrics, an evolution that shouldn’t come as a surprise — Are You Serious is his first effort since getting married and becoming a father. Bird wrote most the new album in a brief burst while holed up in rural Illinois (between moving from New York City to Los Angeles with his wife and child), and the result is one of his most thematically cohesive sets of songs to date.

“Left Handed Kisses,” a duet with Fiona Apple, finds Bird seemingly addressing his new bride directly: “For it begs the question/How did I ever find you?” And moments later: “Now you got me writing love songs/With a common refrain like this one here.” Apple seems to have gotten Bird’s blood flowing as well — his singing is as passionate and full-bodied as ever, often rising to meet Apple’s more unguarded approach. Perhaps most penetrating of all is “Puma,” a song about his wife’s brief illness: “She was radioactive for seven days/How I wanted to be holding her anyways/But the doctors, they told me to stay away/Due to flying neutrinos and gamma rays.”

Find ticket and more info about the show here.

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