Andrew Bird

Fingerlings 2

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The second volume in Andrew Bird's self-issued Fingerlings series solidifies the project's approach; More than just a hodgepodge of live recordings culled from appearances far and wide, these discs offer an uncommonly intimate look at the creative process, warts and all. Without any photos or visual cues to tip them off, what might be lost on some listeners is that they're experiencing tightrope walks -- since dissolving his Bowl of Fire backing unit, Bird has primarily played solo, ingeniously recording and looping multiple violin and guitar parts to create the illusion of a full band. The sheer complexity and daring of these ten songs is further enhanced by their evolving arrangements and phrasings. It only takes a Bird fan a few go-rounds at a couple of his Chicago appearances to realize that these songs have already undergone dramatic transformations from the versions captured here, and if the pattern holds true, those that end up appearing on an "official" LP some time in the future will no doubt shed several more skins in the interim. The lone constant is the sheer virtuosity of Bird's violin; With each innovation, he further redefines the instrument's scope and possibilities.

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