An improvement over the duo's (guitarist John Chumbris and vocalist Lynn Blakey) debut, which was a ragtag collection of demos, this sophomore effort sounds like a band with a mission. Atmospheric and rootsy, the album is drenched in textures, most provided by Chumbris' inventive guitar lines that hover and underpin the songs, infusing them with depth and power. The effect is further fleshed out by Blakey's gorgeous voice, which conveys moody passion and vulnerability through her husky, powerful, yet emotional pipes. Buddy and Julie Miller are obvious reference points for music that combines country, pop, rock, and Americana influences to produce a distinctive mix. Toss in later R.E.M. to add sinuous muscle to Glory Fountain's dreamy groundwork and you have an emotionally complex album bolstered by Mitch Easter's sympathetic, never intrusive production. Although pensive ballads like "Rosary" and the opening title track dominate the album, the few rockers sound convincing and help balance the flow. The Stones-y "Never Say Goodbye" manages to successfully mesh chunky Keith Richards chords with an X-style attack and heartfelt lyrics. Most impressive is the cover of Townes Van Zandt's "Flying Shoes," as the twosome turns it into a Green on Red/Neil Young slow-burning rocker featuring fiery guitar work from Chumbris that recalls Tom Verlaine's wiry textures. Far too inventive to be comfortably pigeonholed, Glory Fountain is contemplative American music filled with passion, love, and regret.
The Beauty of 23 Review
by Hal Horowitz