Ask The Night
Author: Andrew Leahey
When Azure Ray disbanded in 2004, Orenda Fink had little trouble regaining her balance. The songwriter had already juggled multiple bands during her golden years with Maria Taylor, and she continued bouncing from project to project after the split, exploring Haitian music with her 2005 solo debut and wrapping herself in lush pop arrangements during her lone album with Art in Manila. Released several years later, Ask the Night finds Fink in a rare state: restful, leisurely, and unadorned. This is a stripped-down album, devoid of computers and electronics of any kind, and Fink uses the opportunity to flex her muscles as a competent Southern Gothic-styled songwriter. Flanked by little more than her guitar, vocal harmonies, and a sparse Appalachian string band, she steers her voice through tales of Greyhound bus rides, the South, and swampy landscapes. The mood is hushed throughout, although songs like "The Mural" build up to towering climaxes before resuming their serene, earthy pitch. All of this is a far cry from Azure Ray's work, perhaps, but Ask the Night is often gorgeous in its simplicity. Consider this the intimate, moody cousin to Maria Taylor's LadyLuck, an equally endearing (but wildly dissimilar) solo album that came out several months prior.