Heidi Spencer & the Rare Birds – Under Streetlight Glow

January 01, 1970

(Bella Union)




Heidi Spencer & the Rare Birds favor a naturalistic, organic sound on their
first record, befitting a group whose music conjures a lonely, intimate,
nourish atmosphere. A line in the title song, “Waiting for my love to show/under streetlight glow,” is indicative
of the mood, as is that song’s melancholy whistling. Although recorded in the
studio (by Bill Curtis, the band’s drummer), Under Streetlight Glow sounds like it was produced in a quiet
bedroom after midnight. Just the singer, harmony singer Renee Patt, guitarist
Matt Hendricks, pianist Jess Hrobar, and contrabass player Dave Gelting inside
with the uncaring world outside.


Spencer, who also makes films (and is the daughter of a
well-regarded Milwaukee counterculture artist, the late Jim Spencer), shares
her confessions in songs that use sensitively use nature, and the comings and
goings of light and darkness, as metaphors for difficult, sad relationships
(“Red Sky,” “When It’s Shining”). The problem is that all the songs have a
similar, preponderantly slow rhythm, while Spencer’s hushed, breathy, careful
articulation of words and syllables gets draggy after awhile. The band provides
some nice touches, especially Gelting’s bass, but overall Spencer and her Birds
need to take a hint from that streetlight and introduce more brightness into
their sound.


Streetlight Glow,” “Carry Me Softly” STEVEN





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