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The Finches 

Human Like a House (Dulc-i-tone)

Wednesday, Jan 31 2007
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Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs, the Finches' lead singer, has a perfect folk voice. It's a timeless, fragile warble that's country and urban, childlike and womanly, airy and earthy. On her band's debut full-length, Human Like a House, Riggs and bandmate Aaron Morgan contribute subtle chiming guitar lines to melodies that veer off in unexpected directions — a small circle of friends adding understated accents on bass, cello, recorder, pedal steel, and percussion. The songs unwind slowly here, sedate melodies that soothe you into a false sense of security, but under the placid surface are hints at ancient wounds that refuse to heal.

The impressionistic lyrics spin a moody web that pulls you into these beautiful, melancholic little gems. "Lay" is a dark country lament featuring a crying steel guitar; it's an ode to lost love that suggests suicide and unspeakable pain, while "Two Ghosts" is more enigmatic, a song about two souls longing for connection even as they drift further apart. When the tracks explore love's happier moments — skinny dipping at midnight in "Nightswimmings, AR" or meandering hand in hand around a lover's hometown in "O L A" — Riggs' bemused delivery brings an unrestrained yearning to the lyrics, a sense of foreboding that's at once despondent and enchanting. The mysterious ambiance on Human Like a House is complemented by the cryptic woodcut drawings Riggs created for the CD booklet, images that put a bittersweet icing on this perplexing little cake. — J. Poet

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J. Poet

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