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Aoife O'Donovan Pretty Bird
January 8th, 2020

Aoife O’Donovan Shares New Cover of Hazel Dickens’ “Pretty Bird”


Aoife O’Donovan has graced us with a new single, a fresh take on the Hazel Dickens song “Pretty Bird.” First recorded with Crooked Still, this new version features Aoife backed by a string quartet (featuring Jeremy Kittel and Brittany Haas on violins, Mario Gotoh on viola, and Paul Kowert on bass).

Sometime in the early 2000s, the producer and bass player Todd Phillips asked me to be a part of a Hazel Dickens tribute album. I immediately said yes as I had been a huge fan of Hazel’s groundbreaking singing and storytelling since I heard the song Working Girl Blues. Brittany Haas and I drove up to Todd’s studio recorded a duet version of Hazel’s haunting ballad Pretty Bird, but it was never released.

In 2011, Britt and I re-recorded the song for the Crooked Still EP Friends of Fall. Somehow, I didn’t feel finished with it. I tried to imagine how it would sound with an actual string quartet.  So I asked Jeremy Kittel to create an arrangement of Pretty Bird, and would play it whenever I happened to find myself in the company of excellent string players.  In October of last year, I was able to record that version with Jeremy and Britt on violins, Mario Gotoh on viola, and Paul Kowert on bass. There is such simple beauty and depth in the lyric – the encouragement to go beyond yourself, to free yourself from the ties that bind.

Aoife O’Donovan
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