Spellbinding rhythms that brings to mind smoky nightclubs, sensuous evenings with a lover and contemplative dawns spent in the company of a summer breeze. Electrifying guitars that purge resentment and remorse over decisions left unmade. Supple percussive pulsating reminiscent of a heartbeat that coincides with giving yourself over to the unknown.
Blending rich harmonies with self-aware lyricism that feels both retro and yet entirely fresh this summer, Brendan Staunton delivers a rather smashing breakthrough effort in his new album Last of the Light that is almost certain to have an impact on anyone who gives it a spin this month. Stylized after old fashioned folk-rock LPs from the likes of Donovan, John Denver and James Taylor but outfitted with a heady alternative rock twist, Last of the Light is not the easiest record to pigeonhole with conventional genre terminology – which is part of the reason why I’ve fallen in love with it as much as I have recently. Staunton isn’t rocking any sort of ego in this album; on the contrary, he’s embracing the roots of singer/songwriter craftsmanship whilst applying his own unique take on the classic genre.
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There’s a lot of emphasis on the guitar parts in “A Moment,” the acoustic “Smiled” and hazy “Stop Believing,” but I think this was necessary to highlight some of the natural texture in the other instruments present here. The bassline in “Stop Believing” and beat-happy “Nine Day Wonder” is understated to the point of feeling rather ghostly in a couple of key moments, but that doesn’t stop it from cushioning the guitar component better than anything else possibly could have. The percussion is mixed as to create an additional layer of balance in “River,” the angular “Underwater” and Britpop-ish “We Don’t Talk About It,” obscuring the multilayered construction of the music while producing somewhat of a simplistic surface look at the same time (which is definitely no easy feat for any artist, regardless of pedigree, to pull off). I definitely hear a massive live potential in most every song in this LP, but at the same time, it’s hard to imagine this being the case were anyone else at the helm of the microphone. Brendan Staunton has his own unique style of play, and it’s half the reason why this material stings with as much sincerity as it does – even after repeat listening sessions.
I didn’t know anything about this singer/songwriter before getting my hands on a pre-release copy of Last of the Light through an industry colleague just this past week, I’m already excited to hear more out of his camp in the near future. There are definitely more than a few psychedelic elements within this record that I would love for Brendan Staunton to explore a little more in his next trip to the recording studio, but even if they go unchecked in the name of creating something a bit more stripped-down aesthetically, you can bet that I’ll be making a point to cover his upcoming output in either case.