Andrew Bird has been in fine form for over 20 years, his music an always-listenable blend of indie pop with folk and swing, and more often than not featuring his excellent violin work. Latest release Capital Crimes continues the trajectory and is a classy slice of folk-pop with a serious message.
“Where’s the shame/ Where’s the shame/ Where’s the sense of shame?” goes the refrain. It’s an indictment against capital punishment, inspired when Bird learnt that, for a short while, America was preposterously using an IQ test to determine who was next on the executioner’s chair (under 70, and you are spared).
The song screams against institutionalised inhumanity, but is at its heart hopeful and its sound echoes that. It’s driven by a bouncy beat and violin interludes that are at times raucous, other times gentle. Bird keeps the lyrics spare but his words are effecting. “If I let go of your hand, it would be murder,” he says, a testament to how compassion and care is what binds us all together.