Since shedding their gauzy, ethereal, almost gothic sound, His Name Is Alive have picked up a number of adjunct members, left some old ones behind, and taken a path that one probably wouldn't have expected upon hearing their 4AD debut, Livonia. With When the Stars Refuse to Shine's rather minimal execution, there appears to be no more than three instruments accompanying Lovetta Pippen's glorious and soul-inflected vocals at any time. Truly, Pippen's inclusion in the band (she joined during the recording of 1996's Stars on ESP) seems to be a marker for His Name Is Alive's shift towards the bluesy, Motown-influenced sound that they possess on both When the Stars Refuse to Shine and 1998's Ft. Lake. When the Stars... is remarkably divergent from earlier albums, and certain tracks on the record are virtually unrecognizable as the group's music. The sparse violin and piano orchestration of "Why Is This Night Different Than All Others" and "Lotus Blossom 1" recalls Rachel's Music For Egon Schiele, and their cover of Van Morrison's "Moondance" seems suitable for performance in a seedy jazz club. This album helps to illustrate the depth of Warn Defever's musical lexicon with a fine mix of contempo classical and soulful blues. Not the typical HNIA fare, but a welcome departure nonetheless.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Taylor