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Break It Yourself is easily the most low-key full-length effort from Chicago’s folk hero, Andrew Bird. The music itself is toned down but Bird’s voice is the most impressive that I have ever heard it. The album delivers its first golden nugget with “Danse Caribe”, a wonderful song with an abundance of fiddle and Bird evoking a softer Dylan. “Eyeoneye,” comes on like a swarm of bees and the mixture of understated guitar and whistling proves to be a winning combination. “Lazy Projector,” is a nice backyard jam that builds to a crescendo and ends in a hush. A real treat is the rare duet (first on record for Bird, I believe) with Annie Clark, better known as St. Vincent, on “Lusitania,”. The track draws the listener in even closer during this already intimate listening experience. “Opheo Looks Back,” is vintage Andrew Bird, with violin front and center. It has not quite so signature time signatures (not sure I like how this sentence is constructed) that keep things fresh. “Fatal Shore,” is just plain pretty, something well within Bird’s extensive bag of tricks. Actually, calling them tricks cheapens the real ability of the man. He is easily one of the top 10 most talented individuals in “popular” music today. Even with the great support he receives on the album from Clark and longtime drummer Martin Dosh, among others, Bird’s latest’s finest moment just might be the solo track, “Hole In the Ocean Floor,”. I could definitely see going to Shedd Aquarium, playing this through my headphones and getting lost in the experience. Just as the sight of the aquatic life can be breathtaking, so is that song. It puts a really good album over the top to really great. The closer, “Belles”, starts off with, you guessed it, bells. Not really, I do believe it is a xylophone. It serves as a pleasant little instrumental addendum to “Ocean Floor,” and a fitting end to an album that invites you in and embraces you in a completely unawkward manner.
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