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  Letters from a Dormitory Misfit
Artist: Bleeding Charity 
Label: Indie
Length: 11

Bleeding Charity takes their name from a line is C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce.  They are an independent college band based in Pennsylvania.  The title of this album recalls the college years, how painful it can be to try to fit in, and make something of yourself in the process. Letters from a Dormitory Misfit also deals with the trials of finding, ending, and pursuing relationships - “The Night I Met Elise,” “Dinner With Ning,” “Desk Drawers,” and “Asking Around” all portray different facets of dealing with the opposite sex.

Soundwise, Bleeding Charity is in the vein of Jars of Clay, The Waiting, and Jonathan Rundman. Lyrically, the above themes dominate, but there is also an underlying tone of questioning oneself, and of questioning God.  College is a time of feeling unsure about identity, of trying to make the transition from adolescent to adult, and the songs “Mercy,” “Honest Love Song,” and “Self-Destruct” handle these questions while realizing the answers are not an easy thing to attain.

“Asking Around” is the highlight, a humorous but poignant look at dating.  Somewhat in the David Bowie area sonically, it ends up in the Barenaked Ladies range of looking at dating and soliciting advice on the topic from such luminaries as Ricky Martin, James Bond, and the local preacher.  At some point, the subject realizes that being yourself is the solution, rather than trying to emulate qualities in someone else that you do not possess.  

“Dinner with Ning” demonstrates mature thinking. It combines the music of Jars of Clay’s “Tea and Sympathy” with the ideas of VoL’s “Facsimile":

It’s not for lack of opportunity we both agree though somewhat  tongue in cheek and if it’s not that then what else could it be?
I rattle off my thinking and my logical decrees:
I want to love my wife I claim, to love her, and not just some idea
I don’t want slamming doors and yelling voices tearing at my ears
I don’t want to grit my teeth the day I wed cause she’s not what I really want
I’d rather be alone than be embroiled just to get heated up...
In this era where people settle for what they think they want, rather than what they need, “Dinner” shows that waiting for true love is far superior than marrying because one is in love with love, or the idea of being married, or sex.  It makes you hope the author (or the subject of the song) finds what he wants.  Anyone that can make me root for him in three minutes has got my attention.  Bleeding Charity succeeds throughout.

Brian A. Smith  1/11/2003


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