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Orenda Fink
Ask The Night
Saddle Creek Records
www.orendafink.com


Last year, Azure Ray alumni Orenda Fink partnered up with Cedric LaMoyne of Remy Zero for a great project simply called O+S. That record was laced with electronic sounds and beats, forming a darkly modern undercurrent for Fink's vocals. A far cry from O+S, Fink's second solo record Ask The Night trades in the electronics for the soft melancholy of acoustic instruments and further exposes her amazingly complex and sultry voice. The songs mostly center around an old world mountain sound, rich and weathered and intimately familiar.

"Why Is The Night Sad" starts the record in old-timey fashion, with banjo and acoustic guitar forming the mountain minor sound and background vocals pushing Fink's earthy grit to the fore. On "High Ground", Orenda sounds remarkably like Gillian Welch, only less gritty and much more earthy; almost as if she were channeling Emmylou Harris into the beautiful song that lilts along on mandolins and Appalachian beauty. As the record progresses, it stays in that same hilly territory, adding in various instruments, but keeping the arrangements sparse and beautiful. "Alabama" has the sound of bluegrass marked on it, sounding a bit like a melancholy Union Station while "The Garden" almost sounds like an Aimee Mann tune stripped down and laid bare.

Ask The Night is filled with a down-home spirit that haunts the soul in the best of all possible ways. Orenda Fink shows that her voice alone can carry an album of songs, but it is especially beautiful when backed by acoustic instruments with a mountain flavor. This record is a pleasant addition to an already stunning musical catalog that spans genres and sounds, but brings it all back to a basic and earthy place that would make the old folks proud, and the young folks want to listen.

-Embo Blake

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