Horse Feathers | House With No Home

Kill Rock Stars (2008)
By NINA MACLAUGHLIN  |  September 23, 2008
3.5 3.5 Stars
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It’s not a sad album, but it is mournful, in the hushed and satisfying way that Sunday afternoons in November can be; the atmosphere is attic. Justin Ringle, who lives in damp, gray Portland, Oregon, writes simple, subtle songs that can be tucked right in under the Americana quilt. Titles like “Burden,” “Working Poor,” and “Different Gray” give away the record’s disposition, as do plunky-plucked banjo, fiddle, and a cello that resounds in all the right ways. Any initial quaintness complexifies into something richer, more layered. Ringle has a voice that gets compared with Sam Beam’s and Nick Drake’s for its warmth and gentleness. (The Creek Drank the Cradle spun in my CD player for the better part of a year; House surpasses it.) But though his singing is warm and calm, it’s often the strings that become the main characters. Heather Broderick on cello and her brother Peter on violin hold the bows, the mood setters, as it were. And it’s not all pre-winter despondence: “This Is What” is summery above all else, in a picnics-and-swimming-hole sort of way. “Rude To Rile” snaps along; longing rumbles in “Albina.” It’s an intimate thing, particularly when Heather adds backing vocals, and the intimacies are fittingly small — not lovemaking swells but quieter gestures of closeness.
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  Topics: CD Reviews , Nick Drake, Sam Beam, Kill Rock Stars,  More more >
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