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.
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