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How Faint the Whisper
Artist: Luke Brindley
Label: Independent - 
Length: 9 tracks

There is an episode of the television series "Northern Exposure" where NY transplant Dr. Joel Fleischman and his Native American pal Ed, get together on a Sunday morning. The two discuss what Fleischman would be doing at that exact moment if he were back in New York City and Ed correctly predicts it would involve a trip to the corner store to get bagels, then kicking back with the Sunday edition of the New York Times.

After listening to Luke Brindley's latest disc, How Faint the Whisper, I can only imagine that this album might make a lazy Sunday morning, or rainy day, all the more complete. It has that kind of a feel to it. Brindley's press material describes his music in comparison to folks like David Wilcox and Bruce Cockburn, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it is more like the Cockburn of the early to mid-seventies, rather than his music from the 80s and 90s that most are familiar with. It is a sparse, acoustic-guitar based sound and his instrumental tunes, like "The Road Forms Underneath Your Feet" compare well with the best of Cockburn's own instrumental, finger-picking masterpieces. (There are more of these instrumentals on Brindley's earlier release Spring Song.)

The album starts off with the title cut, a gentle song, that gets to the heart of this thing we call love. Then comes "Tangerine," a song of longing for something better beyond this life:

        Who's gonna hold out the cup
        When you're thirsty
        While you wander
        We see what we see,
        How can we
        Keep on hoping
        Keep it open

Another stand out song is "There is Nothing," with its plea to

        Pray for the dawn to come clear the mists of night
        Now more than ever we need clear morning, clear sight.

In fact, a common theme of morning and arising sun appears often throughout the disc with songs like "Dawn" and "Daybreak." It is clear that this is an album of hope and new beginnings; of entering into a new life from places of darkness. On the final cut, "Darkness Done," Brindley ends with:

        Oh these dark times done at last
        Recede and settle into the past
        Turn your face to the rising sun
        Horizon glowing darkness done, darkness done

Sonically, the album has the feel of a bunch of friends sitting around in a den playing their instruments, possibly on that aforementioned lazy, rainy, Sunday morning. And it's a fine bunch of friends that includes fellow indie artists Ben and Vesper Stamper (listen closely for her beautiful voice on "Still Life").

In addition to the previously mentioned artistic influences, Brindley also evokes comparisons to artists like Pierce Pettis and Brooks Williams, and Harrod & Funck.

 Ken Mueller                        7/5/01 

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