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Home of the Brave

You ever have one of those weeks where everything runs smooth and life is almost pure joy? I'm having one. Some weeks, I struggle to write. Some weeks, I struggle to find any music to write about. Some weeks, I struggle to find any music to listen to, and for a guy who spends most of his time listening and writing about what he listens to, those weeks are not fun. This week, though, I'm listening and enjoying the hell out of it. First, Steve Turnidge, who masters music for release, turned me on to Thomas Hunter, who had, almost a year ago mind you, released an album (White China Gold) which somehow ended up on the bottom of the pile in spite of being one of the more amazing efforts I've heard in the past few years. Next, Cam Carpenter finally talked me into testing the waters of a number of Canadian up-and-comers, including Amos the Transparent. Then, to cap things off, 's Buck Curran posts a link to Lindsay Clark's freakishly beautiful Home of the Brave. Oh yeah, I'm listening. And I'm really digging what I'm hearing.

Truth be told, I wasn't sure I was going to like what Lindsay serves up, a modern folk singer/songwriter mix of what I thought would be typical female singer/songwriter tunes. In this day and age, it seems that ninety percent of what you receive are albums by female singer/songwriters and while I like what many women are doing these days, the music of that genre is starting to run together in my head. But what the hell, I'm thinking. If Buck likes her, I owe Buck the same respect he shows Lindsay. So I listen. Ten seconds in, I'm thinking, I dunno..... Twenty seconds in, I'm perking my ears up a bit. By the end of All Ye Faithful, the opening track of Home of the Brave, I stop thinking. It is good. Maybe more than good. But I don't really have time to think. Go To Heaven, a piece of a cappella, um, heaven in fact, was next and from there on, I was sold.

I would love to say that it was Clark's voice which sold me for she has one of beauty, but I can't say that. I would say that the songs were her strength for she writes with melody and harmony in mind and the result is mostly downright stunning, but I can't really say that was what sold me either. No. After numerous listenings, I have come to the conclusion that what really makes Home of the Brave a big step above the norm are the arrangements. Clark has a touch, you see, and it is a delicate one. On some songs, you barely notice the little nuances to her phrasing, but they are there. On others, the addition of instruments, perfect for offsetting or complementing the vocals.

Always, though, there is the mood. In the end, I believe what I really love about this album is the soothing effect it has on me. The music is so pretty, it touches places which need being touched, if only once in a long while. This must be my long while.

Word has it that Clark is presently (well, when she isn't touring) working on a new album, being recorded in her home in Portland. It should be intriguing. She makes mention of the high ceiling. Experiment in using a room for sound engineering? Stay tuned.

Oh, I should mention that you can stream Home of the Brave for free at Lindsay's bandcamp site. Just follow the link and lay back. She, I am sure, will do the rest.

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

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