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Andrew Bird’s New Album ‘Are You Serious’ on NPR 'First Listen'

By Philip Trapp on Mar 26, 2016 03:10 PM EDT

Andrew Bird's highly anticipated new album, Are You Serious, is currently available to stream in its entirety at NPR's First Listen.

As we previously reported, the new effort from Bird contains the recently released duet with Fiona Apple, "Left Handed Kisses," which the pair performed Friday on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. The first single proper is "Capsized," which he debuted live back in January.

The new record follows the singer-songwriter's last original studio album, 2012's Hands of Glory. In the interim, Bird released an LP of The Handsome Family covers (2014's Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of...) and last year's instrumental album, Echolocations: Canyon, an experimental project recorded completely within the canyons of Utah's Coyote Gulch.

Speaking on the album, the musician offered some insight into the songs in an interview with NPR's All Songs Considered. In regard to the song "Chemical Switches," Bird revealed the composition began as a melodic instrumental piece, before the tune called for a lyric to enrich the arrangement:

"This started off as an instrumental, what I thought was a really strong melody. And I think when I really want to just sing that melody, the words really have to serve the shape of the melody, which is the way I would write a lot in the past. So it's definitely more impressionistic; it's based on personal experiences but it's not quite as obvious."

Devotees of the slender songster know him to be unique in the crooner-verse for his stylish application of the violin. Now an established component to his performance, the singer recalled to Interview magazine a time when prospective listeners would undermine the instrument's relevance in his music:

"[P]eople would see the violin and think that it's a band with a violin in it, as opposed to the thing that the whole band is built around. Usually bands with violins-it's this little, poorly amplified looking kind of futile on stage, and that's not the way that my music is put together."

Are You Serious is available Friday, April 1 from Loma Vista Recordings. The artist will be supporting the release with a full U.S. tour this spring, starting with the Savannah Music Festival on March 29.

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TagsAndrew Bird, NPR, NPR First Listen, Fiona Apple, The Handsome Family