Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Anyone who has paid attention to the remarkable career of Reb Fountain would not be surprised by this album which isn't – as some seem to be reading it – a major departure for her.
The opening lines on the first song Hawks and Doves (which fades in, surreptitiously sneaking into your emotional space), are “changes, I've made some changes . . . ”.
Perhaps that has thrown some off noting how this is a natural, creative extension of a catalogue of diverse material which steadily staked out this broad territory.
The spoken-word aspects which come through here, the brooding nature of many songs and the sensual delivery alongside her more familiar country-folk/singer-songwriter style are all a continuation of the diverse threads scattered across her recent recordings.
If Patti Smith is a touchstone in places here then she was also there most obviously in the track Gold on Fountain's Hopeful/Hopeless EP (2017), her chanteuse and poetic voices evident here came through on her previous album Little Arrows (late 2017).
What is perhaps different here is the sense of dark cohesion across these 10 songs, largely realised by Fountain and the MVP/multi-instrumentalist and co-producer Dave Khan, a longtime fellow traveller who also did the exceptional and empathetic string arrangements here.
There are some astute production touches here too: the distant opening passages of Samson before her quiet spoken words over a lonely bass; Khan's guitar on Faster coming at you from somewhere across a distant desert canyon; Strangers is cabaret-noir for an evocative David Lynch moment; there's broad space between her vocals and the piano on the beautiful The Last Word before it gets gentle embellishment and the classic soundtrack-strings come in; The Last Word opens with romantic string which is a clever misdirection before the raw song enters; Finn Andrews adds a baritone, guest vocal on the ballad When Gods Lie . . .
These songs address deeply personal and sometimes disguised and coded emotions and by the final piano'n'strings ballad Lighthouse – where Fountain sounds weary and reluctantly letting go of a warm hand, one finger and a time – this collection takes quite a journey to a destination which is still out there beckoning.
ELSEWHERE ENCOURAGES ITS READERS TO SUPPORT NEW ZEALAND ARTISTS BY BUYING THEIR MUSIC DIRECTLY RATHER THAN STREAM THROUGH SPOTIFY WHERE THEIR RETURNS ARE NEGLIGIBLE