Faith Kleppinger – Asleep in the Well

Faith Kleppinger
Asleep in the Well

There’s no doubt about it: Faith Kleppinger has a beautiful voice. However, a beautiful voice can only carry one so far. Without the ability to write good and interesting songs, a voice is just a voice. Kleppinger, formerly the singer of a roots-pop band Little Bobby Taylors, now lives in Atlanta and has been performing solo for a while, although this is her first solo album. And while it doesn’t really fit into what we all know as indie-rock, there’s no debating her abilities as not only a singer but a songwriter as well.
The framework of these songs is simply Kleppinger’s voice and acoustic guitar, although she’s aided on guitar and drums by Blake Rainey, who has a beautiful voice as well. David Barbe of Sugar fame handles the production here masterfully and contributes musically as well. The songs on Asleep in the Well have a melancholy air, made more so by Kleppinger’s slightly soulful vocals. And while many are very similar, her voice usually differentiates them enough to keep them interesting.
The backing vibraphone on the opener, “City Three,” helps add more atmospherics to the song, which has a lighter feel than some here. From there we get some quieter, simpler tracks, like the bare “Intensified” and the pleasant and almost atmospheric “Daytime.” “Dare” reminds me of Jen Wood. “Dare I make mention of Descartes and horses / Carbon black the shade of something burning / A color we’re used to,” she sings, and Rainey comes in to repeat her vocals at the end in a very Mark Kozelek-sounding voice that works wonderfully. One of my favorites, “Glory/High” mixes acoustic and electric guitar, and Kleppinger’s voice goes even further, soaring during the beautiful choruses on this song.
Some of the best moments here are the ones more fully fleshed out, on which Rainey and Barbe have a more obvious touch. Here Kleppinger’s vocals are built upon instead of simply laid bare. In fact, Rainey’s rich male vocals are a beautiful accompaniment for Kleppinger’s, as on the stark, slow-core styled “Double Negative” and the wonderfully flowing “Runaround,” which also features Barbe on backing ooo’s. Rainey takes the lead on “Howlaround,” and he has a strong voice, creating a haunting, quiet song with some interesting effects.
There is no end to the number of musicians singing and playing an acoustic guitar, but Kleppinger has gone far to flesh out her sound. It could be done more so, even, by making Rainey a more prominent figure in her music, as I can tell his voice and guitar add much to the songs here. Still, the focus is Kleppinger’s lovely voice and slightly haunting lyrics, and it’s quite beautiful all on her own.