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A collection of covers is rather like comparing a print of an artwork with the original - all the elements are still there, it looks roughly the same, but the representation is often crisper even though it lacks the idiosyncrasies that made the original interesting in the first place. You may actually prefer it hanging in your house though, the clean lines matching your modern taste.

Most people will be drawn into discovering Andrew Bird through his recent association with two of the biggest television series of the last few years True Detective and Orange Is the New Black. The original version of 'Far From Any Road' is the former's theme song and the season 2 premiere of the later features Andrew's song for Chicago, 'Pulaski at Night'.

Andrew Bird's eleventh solo studio album pays homage to The Handsome Family, with whom he toured in the autumn of last year. The husband and wife duo have had a few of their song titles extended, for example 'Cathedrals' becomes 'Cathedral in the Dell' and 'So Much Wine' has the addendum '...Merry Christmas' - from Through The Trees (1998) and In The Air (2000). Bird is an accomplished lyricist himself and he has chosen poetic, abstract and largely narrative songs to cover. They have the oddly specific whimsy of The Shins, the emotional journeys found in The Decemberists and are sung with the cadence of a violin-toting, folk-based Rufus Wainwright. This proves a potent combination as Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of polishes the gruffer original vocals of Brett Sparks, adding a lilt supplemented with delicious violin bridges which invoke rolling hills and a Celtic atmosphere, juxtaposing Bird's Illinois heritage, a state famous more for jazz and blues. (He covers 'Giant of Illinois' too, appropriately.)

The strong personal connection to The Handsome Family's material is clear in this album. The time Bird has enjoyed with the duo and their music has paid off as the 10-track tribute. As has been pointed out in the past with Bird's music, it is again a collection that opens and blossoms with time. The beautifully crafted lyrics of Things Are Really Great Here, Sort of are slowly offset by the melancholy implied in the title, at times through the stirring yet mournful violin-caressing and whistling Bird.

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