His music is just so damn lovely, and Hands of Glory is no exception. It's worth pointing out that the album is available, in a deluxe edition, with his last effort, Break It Yourself. On the latter, his playing is focused more on the violin. This time, the he's stylistically leaning on the fiddle. The two albums fit together as a showcase of his versatility.
Hands of Glory, largely because of that fiddle sound, feels more country. His calm, confident vocals have the tiniest hint of twang that blend beautifully with fiddle melodies that swell grandly, dance merrily and are plucked out lightly.
With a title like Hands of Glory you can expect the music to feel a bit like gospel, and it does, in an indirect way. It's not the booming vocals and wailing organs of stereotypical gospel. It's an underlying spirituality, both in the lyrics and the instrumentals. It's a little more obvious in “Something Biblical,” with lines like “Still we keep on dreaming of that fifty year flood. Of oceans of plasma, rivers of blood." Soaring ballads are balanced out with bouncier, though still ambling, tracks like “Railroad Bill” and “If I Needed You.”
On “Beyond the Valley of the Three White Horses” we hear Bird draw a gorgeous variety of sounds out of his instrument, and as the last track of the record, it sums up both Hands of Glory and Break It Yourself nicely.
Certainly there are deeper reasons it works this way, but the most obvious is, wow, Andrew Bird can play.