Richard Shindell has been hailed as an imaginative storyteller whose knack for simple melodies and stark ambiance has bestowed him with a healthy worldwide fan base. Cutting out a career for himself as a literary minded tunesmith, the former seminarian has released five albums since he arrived on the folk scene in 1992 with Sparrow's Point on Shanachie. Shindell reaches into his arsenal of songs and pulls out some of the best for his first live album, Courier, released on the Signature Sounds label. Shindell's songs are delivered in his dark and winding baritone, capturing an array of characters -- most of them victims -- and achieving a perfect mix of melancholy, descriptiveness, and spirituality. The inclusion of Lowell George's "Willin'," which becomes part of a trio of trucker songs performed in the set, and a near-holy reading of Bruce Springsteen's "Fourth of July, Asbury Park," shows Shindell's appreciation of other great songwriters' work as well. He also appreciates good musicians and Courier features a top-notch band including Lincoln Schleifer on bass, Denny MacDermott on drums, and John Putnam on electric guitar. Guests include Bob Dylan band member Larry Campbell and frequent Shindell collaborator Lucy Kapalansky on backup vocals. All contribute to passionate performances of Shindell's lyrically rich songs that include "Fishing," "On a Sea of Fleur de Lis," and "Transit." Shindell is not your average singer/songwriter, and Courier is much more than a live collection of greatest hits. It's a testament to the power of song, in its entire well-crafted splendor.
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AllMusic Review by Jeff Schwachter