Graced with a tremulous choirboy vocal and a propensity for dreamily melancholic, emotion quivering piano-led ballads, the Kentuckian singer-songwriter made his album debut back in 2008 and subsequently went on to work with My Morning Jacket's Jim James, who produced his sophomore release, Dear Companion. They reunite here for his fifth studio set, a collection that variously calls to mind Neil Young (notably so on the gorgeous title track opener), Randy Newman (listen to the piano and strings arrangement on "Sign of Life") and Paul Simon ("In Common Time").
He ventures into uptempo territory for the chorus-catchy "On Our Way Home", where he's joined by regular collaborator Joan Shelly, and, to lesser extent, the wordless marimba-accompanied lullaby "Lily Mozelle", but it's the slower, contemplative numbers that dominate and delight most. He released a gospel album in 2011 and the influence is evident here on "Our Hearts Will Hover", a glorious, soulful number that sees the initial piano joined by muscular electric guitar before an abrupt end as he sings "I am not afraid, I will not be afraid, to love again." If passion soars here, he's more beguiling on the breathily soft, shimmering "To Make It True" and, anchored by a steady martial beat drum pattern, album closer "How It Fades" as he soothingly croons "stay the riot of your heart. I know this is how it fades, evermore and away." Songs for those moments between drowsy reverie and waking epiphany, these are truly golden slumbers.
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