[22 June 2007]
With so many singer-songwriters issuing great records left, right, up, and down for the past couple of years, it’s easy to get fatigued. But I must implore you to open up your rainy afternoons and heart of tender longings for just one more (at least this week). Ann Arbor, Michigan’s Chris Bathgate has the kind of distinctive, intimate voice that fans of acoustic indie-folk rock adore, but it would of course be worth less than a damn if he didn’t pen songs worthy of that hushed, confiding tone. Happily, A Cork Tale Wake is full of gems whose modest arrangements bring out the best in each. On the album’s best track, “A Flash of Light Followed By” builds masterfully over a series of verses that complete the song’s title. “And the air got cold / And the sky got dark / And I kissed your lips with the safety off”, Bathgate sings as stings and horns join the clatter of distorted guitar and feedback. Other highlights include the more straight-forward strummer “The Last Parade on Ann St.” and the violin-soaked weeper “Do What’s Easy”. This is an album, and talent, worthy of your most careful attention.