Geoff Farina – The Wishes Of The Dead

Geoff Farina - The Wishes Of The Dead

Having found such a refreshing sense of informality, looseness and balminess across two delightful albums in 2010 with the multi-talented Chris Brokaw – namely the covers-only The Angel’s Message To Me and the originals-led The Boarder’s Door – it’s relieving that erstwhile Karate frontman Geoff Farina has retained many of the same musical sensibilities for his first solo LP since 2002’s oblique experimental Blobscape. 

Partly inspired by time living with his wife and hanging out with older musicians for a year in a small New England town in Maine, The Wishes Of The Dead is a largely acoustic and strictly one-man affair, which revisits his three solo compositions from The Boarder’s Door in slightly altered arrangements and adds another seven of a similarly reflective and ruralised hue.  As a whole, Farina focuses upon his most literary and observational lyricism as well as his distinctively graceful vocals, whilst not allowing his virtuosity tendencies to get in the way.

Highlights evidently and inevitably abound, with many alluringly-rendered songs hiding their sharper edges in layered storytelling. Therefore, the elegant “Prick Up Your Ears” opens things up beautifully, with fluid guitar-twinning underpinning an understated covert musing on military patriotism.  Elsewhere, the somewhat bleak yet comforting “Twilit” provides an acute examination of a divorcing couple; “Make The Show” hides the warped tale of a car accident from Farina’s Karate touring days inside a pretty almost-ragtime tune; the lilting “Prelapsarian” looks at the world from the wayward perspective of a heroin addict; the gliding “Evergreen” and the serene “Stems” imagine The Sea And Cake’s Sam Prekop exploring a pastoral sonic path; the slide-adorned shimmy of “Hammer And Spade” provides a homage to Maine’s original American settlers; and the gently rambling “The Dove And The Lamb” offers some nostalgic and philosophical meditations across deft guitar-picking.

Ultimately, as with some of Farina’s earlier song-based solo wares, the relative lack of diversity and unvaried pace might mean that The Wishes Of The Dead won’t engage with those in a hurry for more instant gratification.  However, at the same time, this is still one of Geoff Farina’s most generously melodic collections, which repays patience with warmth from a distinctive songwriting intellect.

Damnably (UK/Europe) / Afterhours (Japan)

Geoff Farina – “Prick Up Your Ears”