My current rotation is mostly classroom stuff, refreshing our tortured minds on the basics before we head out to conquer the world (or at least our residency sites) with a stunning display of medical virtuosity. At least, that's the idea. What it really does is afford the typical slacker medical student a wonderful opportunity to attend class for the required 8 hours (8 hours?! Joyous brevity!) and then catch up on outside reading, relaxing, and in my case, listening to new music.
Enter Peggy Honeywell.
I found this album because the recording company is the one the Innocence Mission used for their first album. And it is easy to see the consistency in style: soft, low key, simple melodies and production, thoughtful lyricism. The rising star of this label is the Swede Jose Gonzalez (no, that's not a joke) but I fell for Honeywell's style.
Faint Humms is her sophomore effort, and listening to the first one, she's fortunate to have gotten the chance. If nothing else, her first album proved you don't have to have technical mastery of your instrument to achieve "critical acclaim." The one gem on that album "Moon" is probably why "Faint Humms" exists. "Moon" shows a promise fulfilled in her latest work.
The musicianship is competent (certainly improved from her first album), but no more. There are no stunning displays of ability, no chord changes that tangle the mind's ability to follow. For the most part the only sound is Peggy and her acoustic guitar. But the album doesn't need anything else. Her voice is clear and unique, but reminiscent, as if she's channeling Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams simultaneously. In substance, she remains in the realm of the modern singer-songwriter, dealing largely with love and loss. The straightforward, guileless lyrics paint a shy narrarator either wondering at good fortune or accepting loss without surprise. Hence in "Drama King" she accepts her loss with "we both changed/the unchangeable change." But in Sing Sang Sung her rejoicing is the simple "Don't remember anything, other than it was perfect".
The album is a disappointment only in its brevity, but well worth the purchase. I'm going to enjoy this one for a long while to come.
Now I should go study.