The last time I listened to Nickel Creek was to analyze their adaptation of Robert Burns’ poem, “Sweet Afton,” in my English literature class in college three years ago. Indeed, the waters of Nickel Creek flow gently, a trait reflected in “Sweet Afton” and many other Nickel Creek staples. And that general lack of bite, paired with an almost robotic mastery of each band members’ respective instrument, pushed me away from the band.
So it was strange that, with no expectations and an arbitrarily negative perception of the classic folk band, I really enjoyed seeing Nickel Creek reunite in Washington, D.C. after a six-year hiatus. The show, in sum, was really, really good.
If you were overwhelmed by all that election business, you might have forgotten that October just happened, and with it came a new release from one of my personal favorite musicians, Andrew Bird.
Hands of Glory, Andrew Bird’s latest record and companion to March’s Break it Yourself, is the product of a pair of recording sessions prompted by an immense response to Bird’s “old-time” sets on recent tours.
Reinterpreting songs from Break It Yourself and featuring covers of classic country tunes, these “old-time” performances find Bird and his full band playing to a single microphone with an entirely acoustic setup.
Drawing inspiration from these sets, Hands of Glory features two brand new original tracks, a new interpretation of “Orpheo Looks Back” from Break It Yourself and covers of Van Zandt, the Handsome Family, Alpha Consumer and others.
The results are fantastic.
It’s good to start a new year by remembering those who passed in the just concluded year. These aren’t the most famous (or infamous), and I didn’t know them personally (or, at best, had met several briefly), but their lives touched mine in three of my passions: American roots music, politics and public life, and baseball.