Saddle Creek | Orenda Fink | Reviews


Ask The Night

Author: Kate Thuma
10/09/2009 | | | Album Review
When you're drugged up on three kinds of cold medicine and trying to find a way to rest your head that doesn't egg on a pounding sinus headache, sleep is a forgotten luxury, lost to a freshly sandpapered throat and throbbing congestion that you can feel all the way in your ears (gross). On one of these sleepless nights, as I waited patiently for death to find me, I resorted to a last-ditch slumber effort: sonic therapy. At least a little music would fill my room with a sound other than the affected wheezing of an invalid who may or may not have swine flu. My Recently Added playlist started up, tuning to Orenda Fink's "Why Is The Night Sad," off her sophomore solo release, Ask The Night. What seemed like only seconds later, I awoke to a runny nose and a fresh round of morning jackhammers outside my window. If nothing else, Orenda Fink is working lullaby witchcraft.

Unlike Fink's first solo release, Invisible Ones, which wound occasional string solos and heavy drum backdrops around her echoing vocals, Ask The Night substitutes the string section and drum line for banjos, mandolins, and a few fiddle and tambourine accents. The result is akin to what Jewel would probably sound like today if she'd stayed on the Alaskan frontier songstress path rather than aggressively and sexually launching a women's razor brand. Fink works that same small-town America bluegrass vibe that works wonders as a backdrop to sleepless nights and for driving partygoers out of your house in the wee hours of the morning.

As much as it's less active listening and more background music, Ask The Night seems to signify some level of artistic growth for the former Azure Ray singer. While Invisible Ones offered a messy jumble of tunes tinted by Sinéad O'Connor, PJ Harvey, and Norah Jones, Ask The Night serves as Fink's reminder that she is, in fact, a child of the South. Especially on opener "Why Is The Night Sad," a collaborative effort with Birmingham-based poet Chris Lawson, Fink opens the floodgates on her Alabaman/Georgian roots, pairing fingerpicked acoustic guitar with her softly crooning voice. Along with other equally soothing tracks like "High Ground" and "Half-Light," Ask The Night is a dose of a kind of southern comfort that my doctor might actually approve of.

1. Why Is The Night Sad
2. High Ground
3. Sister
4. That Certain-Something Spring
5. The Garden
6. Wind
7. Alabama
8. The Mural
9. Half-Light
10. The Moon Knows
Ask The Night

Ask The Night

LP / CD / MP3