Firecracker People

Firecracker People

by Hotel Lights

CD

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Overview

Firecracker People

You've got to wonder what was going through Darren Jessee's mind while he spent six years playing drums for Ben Folds Five -- Folds may have a knack for writing a witty pop tune, but Firecracker People, the second album from Jessee's subsequent project, Hotel Lights, makes it clear that Darren had far more subtle and cerebral sounds lurking within his heart. Jessee and producer/multi-instrumentalist Alan Weatherhead have filled Firecracker People with spectral musical textures and melodies that sound subtly heartbroken even when they carry silky smooth hooks; like a friendlier version of Chappaquiddick Skyline fused with Ron Sexsmith's bruised but hopeful songwriting style, Hotel Lights deliver graceful sounds that speak of the dark night of the soul without entirely giving in to despair. Jessee's soft, burnished whisper of a voice is certainly the right instrument for these tunes, and between Jessee and Weatherhead, a small army of keyboards and guitars gives these songs their musical flesh and blood, and it's difficult at times to imagine that an album which sounds this rich was created by a mere four people (bassist Jay Brown and drummer Zeke Hutchins, former members of Tift Merritt's road band, are relatively recent additions to Hotel Lights but hold down the rhythm with unobtrusive skill on these sessions). The craft of Firecracker People is nothing short of superb, though it lacks the dynamics to make its 47 minutes as compelling as they could be; the album's gentle midtempo feel is a bit like a warm bath that feels soothing at first but gets a bit tepid with time, and this music could use some more peaks and valleys for the sake of texture. But that doesn't change the fact Jessee writes fine songs, and he and Weatherhead know how to make them come to life in the studio; if consistency is the flaw of Firecracker People, it also means this album doesn't have a single dud track and it sounds great from first note to last.

Product Details

Release Date: 08/19/2008
Label: Bar/None Records
UPC: 0032862018824
catalogNumber: 188

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