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The Room is Empty
Artist: Charlie Beresford
Label: Brightfield  
Length: 14 tracks / 47 mins
Once a visual artist, whose work was dark and moody, Beresford has created an organic, acoustic soundscape where much collides spiky beauty meets cautious dissonance, enquiry meets anger, vulnerability meets hurt and the spiritual is brought to earth. Armed with just acoustic guitar and accompanied by Mark Emerson (violin and accordion) and Tim Harries (double bass), Beresford sets an atmospheric mood and is not afraid to investigate sin and bitterness. 
His lyrics seem to lay where faith, anger and regret meet, all conveyed with an  ambiguity that makes it hard to know whether to the songs help to express frustration or just vent anger at God.
While he can plainly build decent, characterful sound patterns, he leaves me wondering whether he has trodden too heavily on the wrong side of the fine line between over-dissonant musicality and a valid musical expression of the sourness of the lyric.
Sometimes (as with the twilight fragility of "The Tide that Pushed Away" and the compellingly addictive "I Let You Walk with Me" he gets it just right. At others, he will be too irregular or meandering for many.
Creating spaces between Beresford's tracks his fellow musicians add short, similarly disturbing instrumental interludes. Harries (who has worked with Brian Eno, Iona and Katie Melhua) and Emerson are highly able musicians, often accompanying folk legend June Tabor; but does their spikiness push the mood just a touch too far? 
While purists might disagree strongly, a little more beauty would have made this unique disc more accessible and given a warmer context for dealing with the brokenness.
Derek Walker  5/17/2007



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