pick-of-the-monthchoir weaverThe Choir creates music that will make you want to close your eyes and sink into the vibe, with lyrics that will make you feel, think, and maybe even have a transcendental experience

Shadow Weaver
The Choir
Galaxy 21 Music
13 tracks / 56:16

Shadow Weaver is everything you'd expect from The Choir. For the better part of an hour, Derri Daugherty (guitar and vocals), Marc Byrd (guitars and keys), Steve Hindalong (drums, percussion and lyrics), Tim Chandler (bass), and Dan Michaels (sax, horns, and lyricon) perform songs that are so distinctly in their particular aural and conceptual wheelhouse that you know that they could come from no other source but this band that has remained true to their muse since the eighties.

There's a dream-like – almost trance-like – ambiance right from the first track, "Good Morning, Shadow Weaver," a theme that returns at the very end of the album in an even dreamier reprise, forming a conceptual endless loop – an appropriate device for the often Beatles-inspired band.

There are moments where the band rocks out – well, at least to whatever extent that The Choir, sometimes associated (unfairly, I think) with the shoe-gaze crowd, ventures in that direction: "What You Think I Am," "White Knuckles," and "Rhythm of The Road" are The Choir in a less restrained mode, the first two songs dealing with throwing off the shackles of expected Christian conformity and the third being a song about the shared camaraderie and adventures of being a band on the road. Even on these edgier tracks, though, The Choir's signature shimmering, reverb-drenched vocals, washes of fuzzed rhythm guitar, and that almost undefinable lyricon ambiance keep that edge from getting out of hand. Those looking for something more raucous should look elsewhere.

Of course, if you've come this far with Daugherty, Hindalong, Chandler, Michaels and company, you know to expect a more mellow rock vibe with plenty of ambient sound, introspective, poetic lyrics, and just a hint of Christian mysticism. Shadow Weaver, like most projects by The Choir, also offers vignettes about love and life and the issues we all face as a common humanity. "It Hurts to Say Goodbye," with its Beatles-meets-Beach Boys burst of harmony right at the beginning, is about separation, "We All Know," deals with the value of suffering and small victories, and "The Antithesis of Blue" details the big and small joys and hopes of life, from the resurrection of Jesus to making your lover's dreams come true in even the smallest of ways.

Once again, Steve Hindalong offers lyrics that are full of beauty and packed deep with meaning – not all of it easily discerned, and some of it sure to be questioned by the religious word-counters. Still, short vignettes like "Two Clouds are One" while open to interpretation, certainly evoke romance on some level. On the other hand is "Get Gone," where Hindalong seems to want nothing more than some temporary isolation from everyone and everything.

The Choir is here to create music that will make you want to close your eyes and sink into the vibe, and lyrics that will make you feel, think, and maybe even have a transcendental experience. Speaking of which - "Everybody's Got a Guru," with its reference to kundalini, certainly won't land the track on Christian radio, but consider these lyrics from "What You Think I Am," and you'll get a fair idea of where The Choir is coming from:

"I'm nobody's angel
That ain't me
And what kind of devil do you think I be?
I'm a good Samaritan and a very, very bad man
I'm a whole lot better – and a whole lot worse
Than what you think I am ..."

Once again, Daugherty's vocals can't help but ironically conjure up words like 'choir boy,' and – for the first time – I'm hearing a bit of Paul Simon in his vocal tone – especially on "White Knuckles." Hindalong's percussion work is as solid and sound as ever, getting almost orchestral on the closing track. Chandler's serpentine , winding bass twists in, under, and through the songs while Michaels' lyricon and horn work create any number of wailing, haunting sounds. Byrd fills in that wall of sound with guitar and electronic keyboard, and Christy Byrd adds another layer with ethereal vocal harmonies and selected solo moments. The combined result is The Choir – pure and not-so simple.

-Bert Saraco


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