Bill Ricchini

Tonight I Burn Brightly

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Bill Ricchini's debut album Ordinary Time was a very nice bedroom pop record, full of hooks, interesting arrangements and melancholy, winter-tinged songs. For his second album, Tonight I Burn Brightly, he leaves the mid-fi record behind and hits the studio with a full band. That is the only thing that has changed, as the songs and arrangements are just as good (if not better) and any perceived lack of imtimacy is offset by the simplicity and directness of the songs and lyrics. Plus, Ricchini is blessed with the same intimate whisper of a voice that Joe Pernice, and before him Colin Blunstone, made the envy of tender balladeers everywhere. On this album it is much more out-front and it gives the album an emotional punch the first lacked. Mentioning Pernice before wasn't a coincidence because Ricchini sounds like the Triple-A version of the Pernice Brothers, especially on the more uptempo tracks like "I Just Can't Fall in Love," "Dark Little Sea" and "Angela." And the moody ballads like "Close the Door," "People" and "A Cold Wind Will Blow Through Your Door," too. And no, Triple-A isn't so bad. After all, it's just one lucky break away from the show and there are one or two songs here that show Ricchini might be near that kind of leap: the shambling "When the Morning Comes," which manages to sound like an impossible mix of Harry Nilsson and Glen Campbell and sports a jaunty feel you might not have expected, and the tender and emotional "She Don't Come Around Here Anymore." A couple others will stick with you, too. In fact, the whole record is the kind that will be hard to take out of rotation because spending 38 minutes with Bill Ricchini is a very pleasant experience, smooth and easy with a touch of heartbreak -- just the way this kind of indie pop goes down best.

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