Turns out whistlin' genius Andrew Bird is recording his follow-up to last year's excellent Armchair Apocrypha in Music City. Bird recently began contributing to The Times' "Measure for Measure," a blog about songwriting which also features contributions from Darrell Brown, Rosanne Cash and Suzanne Vega. In his most recent post, he discusses working with Mark Nevers at his studio The Beech House.
The record I want to make here and now — the one I wish I could find in my local record store — is a gentle, lulling, polyrhythmic, minimalist yet warm tapestry of acoustic instruments. No solos, just interlocking parts. A little Steve Reich, but groovier. A little Ghanaian street music, but more arranged. Thick and creamy vocals like the Zombies’s Colin Blunstone. The bass warm and tubby like Studio One dub.
I’ve worked with Mark Nevers a few times before. We made “Weather Systems” in 2003 and he has had me down to play on some great records by the likes of Candi Staton, Will Oldham (a.k.a. Bonnie “Prince” Billy) and Bobby Bare Sr. and Jr. He is especially good with acoustic instruments and subtle, textural ambiance. He records guitars and vocals really “hot” so the sound saturates the analog tape. I knew his approach was right for me in 2003 when we recorded “First Song,” a quiet, spare tune. Driving home at 80 m.p.h., I could hear every note.