about the reader, but the tag "Americana" I've always regarded
as being confusing and not very useful (and let's not talk about "alternative
country" - sure, it's meant not to be confused with the more "modern"
country à la Shania Twain, but when important inspirations appear
to be albums like the Rolling Stones' Exile On Main Street or the "imaginary
country" of the Kinks' Muswell Hillbillies...). My doubts only
grew after I saw (a few years ago) Will Oldham, who didn't seem to know
the neck that well; or when I heard The Hem's Rabbit Songs - well done
but a real snoozefest. And I'd be curious to know the "Americana"
fans opinion about the recently re-released On The Beach by Neil Young
(year of the original release: 1974), or about the idiom exploration
by Biota on Tumble (1989).
it's an uphill battle for this Weather Systems by Andrew Bird, a violin
player and singer, former sideman with Squirrel Nut Zippers, who has
already recorded quite a few albums under his name. Mind you, this is
not a "bad" record: there are nice simple songs, well sung
by Bird, who's also an excellent whistler and an adequate violin player.
Sometimes it reminded me of Jeff Buckley - for instance, listen to the
title-track. There are versatile percussions by Kevin O'Donnell, nice
guitar and vocals by Nora O'Connor, beautiful treatments by producer
Mark Nevers (Lambchop, Will Oldham), which give the instrumental tracks
a cinematic spatial quality. That Bird's songs are fine is demonstrated
by his cover of The Handsome Family's Don't Be Scared, a much more predictable
song. So? While there's nothing seriously wrong with this record, I
can find no real distinctive qualities that can make it meaningful,
besides pleasant (there are no lyrics in the booklet, nor I could find
them on the Web).
Beppe Colli 2003
| Aug. 26, 2003