You have to be ballsy to be a strictly instrumental musician in this day and age. Andrew Bird isn’t just a name heard by older people or hipsters that listen to NPR (guilty) either. He’s been featured on the Colbert Report and summer music festivals like Lollapalooza across the United States. Bird’s 90 percent instrumental album I Want to See Pulaski at Night is nothing short of beautiful.
The seven-song album is a story in itself. The album opens with a melodic string introduction with Ethio Invention no. 1. The album focuses on mainly Bird’s string talents, namely the violin which seems to be his forte. The album blends from Japanese-esque string influences in Ethio to British cottage countryside in Lit from Underneath, to mountain bluegrass meets Scarlett O’Hara’s cotillion in Hover I.
Bird himself said that his inspiration aimed to almost create the album into a score, “as if the songs were a movie.” And I certainly wouldn’t complain if he scored a movie in the near future. Bird also added in a press release that the album was about 20 years in the making, forming from a phrase that stuck in his head in his 20’s while roaming around Chicago.
While the album may seem more than ambitious for those that are unfamiliar with Bird’s work, it’s not at all overreaching for his style. Bird has released ten full-length albums and a plethora of other EPs and live albums since first performing solo in 2003, of which at least half of the songs are instrumental. One of my favorites of his is probably The Supine from his 2007 album Armchair Apocrypha.
It’s hard to hold a listener’s focus with only an instrument, but Andrew Bird does it with flying colors in I Want to See Pulaski at Night.