Andrew Bird – Are You Serious (Deluxe Edition) (2016) [Qobuz FLAC 24bit/96kHz]

Andrew Bird – Are You Serious (Deluxe Edition) (2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 50:11 minutes | 1 GB | Genre: Indie
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Digital Booklet | © Loma Vista Recordings

Andrew Bird has always been highly respected and has held a captive audience with his story telling prowess, but it’s with his new album, Are You Serious, that he has made a breakthrough record. Produced by Tony Berg, the album propels him into a new category of American songwriters. It’s his most direct lyrically to date with key contributions from Fiona Apple and Blake Mills.

Three years ago while traveling west to California to start a new life with his wife and young child they stopped at the family farm in rural Illinois for two weeks to catch their breath. The previous two years had been intense to say the least: raising a child in New York City as his wife battled a serious illness. With these dark days behind them he spent the next seven days on the front porch writing the lyrics for what became Are You Serious.  It’s a breakthrough for him in that it gets to the quick of the matter. This is the record he needed to make right now and is certain to put him in the leading class of American songwriter.

Marriage, fatherhood, and California are on the mind of Andrew Bird, whose tenth LP, Are You Serious, offers a rare glimpse into the enigmatic artist’s personal life. Prior to this release, Bird’s vast and perpetually inventive body of work has generally eschewed confessional songwriter fare, opting instead for the clever wordplay of a worldly observer who sets the scene but rarely lives in it. A lifelong troubadour whose wandering ways have seemingly found some respite as a Los Angeles family man, the native Chicagoan cracks open the door and reveals himself in a way that manages to strike an elegant balance with his more cryptic tendencies. One of the most dramatic of these revelations is “Valley of the Young,” a track whose sweeping rock crescendos punctuate its coming-of-middle-age take on becoming a parent “where your friends will become strange to you, just as you will become strange to them.” The lovely “Bellevue” offers a heartfelt paean to his wife as he sings “Now I found someone who can slake my thirst in a land beset by drought” while on the title cut, Bird takes aim at his own verbosity, wryly crooning “Used to be so willfully obtuse, or is the word abstruse? Semantics like a noose, get out your dictionaries.” Still, this subtle shift inward hasn’t dampened his poetic flair and musically he manages to distill his creative hallmarks into a set that beautifully melds the stripped down tone of later works like 2012’s Break It Yourself with the lushly appointed folk-pop orchestrations of his mid-2000s output. Reuniting with producer Tony Berg, who helmed his 2005 tour de force The Mysterious Production of Eggs, Bird is also joined by multi-instrumentalist Blake Mills and L.A. favorite Fiona Apple, who duets with him on the quirky acoustic “Left Hand Kisses.” The veteran presence of keyboardist Patrick Warren (Michael Penn, Aimee Mann) and legendary mixing engineer Tchad Blake (Los Lobos, Richard Thompson) also lend a bit of West Coast polish to the proceedings. Soulful offerings like “Capsized” and “Truth Lies Low” color the record’s first half while the strange, dub-flavored pop of “Puma” makes for one of his catchiest tracks in years. The eerie magic of “Saints Preservus” into the sunny “The New Saint Jude” sets off a marvelous four-song run that closes out what is some of Andrew Bird’s best work in nearly a decade. ~~ AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger
1 Capsized 03:40
2 Roma Fade 04:03
3 Truth Lies Low 05:29
4 Puma 03:31
5 Chemical Switches 03:23
6 Left Handed Kisses 03:15
7 Are You Serious 03:39
8 Saints Preservus 03:49
9 The New Saint Jude 04:11
10 Valleys Of The Young 05:34
11 Bellevue 02:03
12 Shoulder Mountain 03:32
13 Pulaski 04:02

Andrew Bird – vocals (1-11), violins (1-4, 6-11), whistling (2, 5, 8), guitar (3, 4, 6, 8, 10), omnichord (9)
Blake Mills – guitar (1-11), pedal steel guitar (1), drums (2), mandolin (4), tiple (9), electric banjo (10)
Ted Poor – drums (1-4, 6-11), percussion (1, 2, 4, 8), vibes (6), tubular bells (6)
Alan Hampton – bass (1-4, 6-11), guitar (2, 4)
Patrick Warren – keyboards (1, 2, 4, 7)
Moses Sumney – vocals (1, 3)
Bram Inscore – keyboards (2, 4, 9, 10)
Fiona Apple – vocals (6)
Tony Berg – guitar (8), keyboards (9)



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