Pulaski is a city in both western Virginia and south-central Tennessee, and yet, in the one song with lyrics on Andrew Bird’s new EP, he’s begging an anonymous someone to come back to Chicago. Given that signpost, Bird’s mostly likely referring to Pulaski Park on the west side of town, but place doesn’t necessarily matter on I Want to See Pulaski at Night. Because on his new EP, the prolific, fiddle-touting, whistling Bird creates a cinematic musical experience that opens itself to both individual interpretation and universal experience.
I Want to See Pulaski at Night, Bird’s most recent release since 2012’s Hands of Glory (which served as a companion piece to last year’s LP Break It Yourself ), is structurally genius. Bird places the title track in the middle of the seven-song EP and frames it with an instrumental score. The layered violins of “Ethio Invention No. 1” and the staccato plucking in both “Lit From Underneath” and “Logan’s Loop” foreshadow the jauntiness and narrative tension of “I Want to See Pulaski at Night.” Later, however, the drawling bowings of “Hover I” and “Hover II” echo the title track’s minor key violin swoons. At last, the closing “Ethio Invention No. 2” combines all of these musical flourishes while introducing new progressive motifs, thereby contextualizing the underlying theme of hope and renewal.
In the center of I Want to See Pulaski at Night remains Bird’s omnipresent story of love, loss and renewal. And with both the lyrics and the instrumentals begging for a movie treatment, here’s to an accompanying short film coming next.