On part of their debut album, Ghostland, the Goblin Market adapted verse by Emily Bronte and Edgar Allan Poe. Here they take a somewhat similar approach, presenting songs inspired by the stories of Joyce Carol Oates. These are not, it should be stressed, prose by Oates set to music; they were composed by either Jeff Kelly or Laura Weller, with Oates serving as inspiration, not as provider of the lyrical text. Whether or not you're familiar with Oates' work, this is quality moody, oft minor-keyed folk-rock, with a late-afternoon winter-coming-on feel. While neither Kelly or Weller are especially commanding vocalists, their wistful voices suit the faded-leaves vibe well, as does the production -- spacious but not sparse, folky but with room for buzzing electric guitar, piano, and spooky synthesizer. If you do want to pursue the inspiration for these songs to the source, the lyric booklet notes what specific writings sparked which compositions. Kelly and Weller come across as characters who might be more suited for a 19th century Bronte novel than the early-21st century modern world in which this was released, which might limit its impact upon the contemporary scene, even the alternative one. But it's recommended listening for those who'd like to check out music that acknowledges the dark side of life without sounding like contrived wallowing.
AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger