Blinding Flashes of Light / John Common

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On his third solo album, John Common co-bills a backup band, Blinding Flashes of Light, that turns out to be a folk-pop chamber group including a cello (Wesley Michaels) and accordion (Scott McCormick), as well as a female harmony singer (Jess Denicola) to shadow his phlegm-filled tenor. They play arrangements of his songs that have a European Gypsy feel and add a certain humor to his world-weary themes. Common is "scared and pleading, barely breathing," he notes in the opening song, "Can You Hear Me." But he sometimes has his tongue in his cheek, as he makes clear in "Go to Hell (With Me)," which will suggest Nick Cave or Tom Waits to some, Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill to others. This is sly, witty stuff, but the artiness does not detract from the introspective singer/songwriter identity Common maintains, even when he is putting a frame around his reflections and thus commenting on his sensitivity even as he expresses it.

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