From A Fountain - Shale & Sandstone
National Eye regular Douglas Kirby saves his solo goodies for the umbrella of From a Mountain. "Shale & Sandstone" is his latest foray into a lo-fi that is so fragile and personal that if his lyrics were less abstract it might be uncomfortable to hear him out. Nevertheless, there is enough subtle power and easy access to the heart, that abstract or not many of these songs are indelible on the ear.
"Man I Wed" starts off so laconic it is barely there, and the vocals more or less remain at that hermetic level, though the music gradually reveals a solid guitar quote and eventually a baroque piano driven psych melody, complete with angelic chorus. "Morning" continues that vibe, but is, if anything, more laid back and cagey. "A Fountain" has a dreamy, gorgeous childlike feel, while "Washing," with a more insistent and sustained piano melody, is close in feel to a classic trad pop song, and as beautiful.
"O Shem" is pure genius, a song that is so lo-fi it almost vanishes halfway through before revealing a majestic underbelly, Gospel-like in its casual power. The country-ish "Listen, Pharoah" is perhaps the most upbeat song here, at least musically. The ambient pop of "It's Only Right" and the closer, "My Blessed Body", end the set on a haunted but hopeful note. We know by now that From A Fountain celebrate life, even if they look for the goodies is murky corners.
If you check out his website, (Fromafountain.com) you can follow the path of many of the songs on "Shale & Sandstone," from initial phrase to finished ideas. The intimacy, and implied generosity, is fitting for songs and for a singer who seems to be bearing his soul, even though sometimes Douglas Kirby does it while peeking out from some vintage parlor curtains.
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