Pendulously slipping out of the ethers and into the air around us, we find the opening melody of “Smiled” in a vulnerable state that will feel all the more intimate once singer/songwriter Brendan Staunton begins to croon. A softer follow-up to “Stop Believing,” “Smiled” feels like as much of a cornerstone as any song in the tracklist of Staunton’s new record Last of the Light, and while there are some moments – like this one – that sound a little more personal than others, there’s nothing here I would deem inauthentic from a critical perspective.

Brendan Staunton presents himself as a laid back, albeit a touch conservative, folk-rocker with a strong interest in pop aesthetics in every song on this record. From the moderate rhythm of “Nine Day Wonder” to the crisp, somewhat jazzy glow of the Gram Parsons-esque “River,” his ease with the studio environment is something that his peers ought to be a little envious of. Spend long enough with Last of the Light and you’re likely to understand why so many indie buffs have been getting into singer/songwriters like this one in the last couple of years.

BRENDAN STAUNTON: https://www.brendanstauntonmusic.com/about-brendan-staunton/

“A Moment” serves as the steamiest moment in the second act of Last of the Light, but it’s definitely not the only smoldering number on the back half of the record. The instrumentally-savvy “A Girl” has a lot of blue-eyed soul in its blood, while earlier on in the tracklist the surreal “We Don’t Talk About It” gets the album started with a gust of freewheeling grooves that could put even the glummest among us in a good mood. While Staunton doesn’t hold back from getting a little dark every now and again with his lyricism, there’s not a lot of examples that I can point to where he isn’t redeeming his statements with an uplifting tone. There’s a poetic value to the very means through which he delivers his words here, and though he sometimes prefers to let the melodies explain a narrative for him (“Underwater”) more than he does his lyrics, he’s constantly reinforcing a statement through every means possible in Last of the Light.

In songs like “Mean to You,” “River” and “A Girl,” we get to know an emerging singer/songwriter in Brendan Staunton who, though not the only artist in his scene worthy of some international attention this summer, is cutting something that a lot of fans will probably regard as one of the best solo debuts of the year in Last of the Light. There are a lot of active influences in play here, some of which will likely be abandoned in future releases and replaced with others along the way, but for what Staunton was essentially trying to compile in this record, I think he did a good job of making all of the material here flow rather seamlessly. He’s got room to keep growing into this sound, but I still think he’s an artist that we should be keeping an eye on through the next year at any rate.

Nicole Killian

About The Author

Nicole Killian

Nicole loves to go cross country skiing, swimming, reading and critiquing books, listening and critiquing music, some culinary arts, pottery, spending time with my daughter, cheesy horror films.

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