Fiona Apple and Andrew Bird Share Semi-Sweet, Semi-Angry, Semi-“Unhinged” Duet

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No matter what Fiona Apple does, the emotional drive will never be easy to pin down. Especially on her most recent album, The Idler Wheel, the stripped-down instrumentation highlighted the musician’s knack for frenetically flitting between exuberance, frustration, ire and desire, often in the same lines.

Even when she’s backing up a more folksy, whistling, singsongy singer like Andrew Bird , she brings a wonderfully hard edge to the track. In their just released collaboration for Bird’s upcoming album Are You Serious, titled “Left Handed Kisses,” the temptation to fall into duet-ed sweetness is always kept in check by a simultaneous tension or suddenly angry tone. It keeps the collaboration highly dynamic, with Bird singing about writing love songs while Apple indicts them for being “backhanded.”

Though his music has always boasted a completely pleasant sound and his voice has always been tender and lulling, he’s lyrically often avoided such emotional straightforwardness. He said in a press release:

My inclination was to write a song about why I can’t write a simple love song. The song began as an internal dialogue. At first it was just my voice. Then another voice came creeping in and I thought “this should be a duet if I can find the right person.” I needed to find someone really indicting. She was totally committed. The session was a long whiskey-fueled night – unhinged, for sure. All worth it, of course. I can’t write simple love songs. People are complex.

The album will be released on April 1. Listen to the track: