the heart of Brooklyn, “high lonesome” might
mean and sound like something a lot different than the sound of a forlorn
gee-tar and/or singer wailing across the plains. Yet singer/guitarist Rebecca
Pronsky, a native of said New York
borough, keeps that yearning sound of love and loss burning strong on her
second full-length and third overall release.
Pronsky can draw comparisons to Neko Case (and she has), that has less to do
with imitation than it does with her possession of another version of The
Voice: a strong instrument that doesn’t need to over-emote since it projects
with authority. A sense of economy filters through the whole album, as well.
Some songs skillfully wrap up after two verses, knowing that one more would be
too much; a couple use the circular trick of ending the song by singing the
first line of a verse, leaving you dangling.
Pronsky’s metaphorical looks at bad romance and her couplets get a little
simplistic. “The Wheel”‘s relationship-as-carnival-ride line is a good example.
But at other times, she delivers an exceptionally stinging image, like a line
worthy of Nick Cave in “Dead of the Dead”: “I used to
live alone, but then I had a child/ a parasite of bone that put me up on
when a line might fall short, Viewfinder has enough musical ammunition to raise it up. Along with Pronsky’s pipes,
guitarist Rich Bennett puts the trimmings on the music with a battery of echo
drenched, twangy leads, which brings us back to the high lonesome texture to
the music. These songs would sound pretty strong on their own, but Bennett’s
attention to detail is what makes them really memorable. “The Wheel” ultimately
becomes one of the album’s strongest tracks because its slow tempo and chord
changes create a suspense that never fully resolves. All that dreamy reverb
only helps the matter.
might hang around with city slicker singer-songwriter types (she organizes a
Brooklyn Songwriter’s Exchange) and that’s all well and good. (One, her friend
Lucy Wainwright Roche, composed a song on this album.) But Viewfinder has her poised to take off in a direction that could
bring fans of good country music and songwriters together in her camp.
Hopefully it’ll fall into the right hands.
DOWNLOAD: “Day of the Dead,”
“Anything but Good.” MIKE