Leo Crandall – Letters From The Sun (Independent)
Autobiographical information on Leo Crandall is thin on the ground, so I assume he’s chosen to let his music speak for itself. Frankly, he couldn’t have decided upon a more eloquent form. His songs are rooted firmly in various folk traditions, though exact origins are difficult to pin down.
Crandall is a founding member and principal songwriter in the Gonstermachers, a New York quartet with a reputation for dark, experimental Americana, and a composer for film, theatre, dance and art installations. All that experience serves him well when framing both his own songs, and the traditional European folk tunes that appear regularly throughout “Letters From The Sun”.
His rich voice delivers the material with authority and poise, lingering deftly to emphasize lines and give an occasional emotional chill. It’s powerful and moving, and Crandall, accompanying himself on requinto guitar, builds ambience and mood to compliment his words.
The depth and resonance he brings to his vocal performance reminds me a little of the late, great Jackie Leven, and opening cut “Jesus Was a Runner” is sung a capella, and the hairs that live on the back of things, stand instantly to attention. It soon becomes standard procedure. “Crucify the Dogs” is dark and oppressively beautiful, with Crandall showing substantial instrumental prowess, and on “Virginia” he weaves a wintry tale of lost love and rejection.