Stripped to the intimate instrumentation of just piano and voice, Andy Monroe's second album, 'RAIN,' is a dark and brooding collection of songs and improvisations recorded live in the studio without overdubs and in single takes. The album opens with the title track, an eight-minute meditation featuring a pleading melody over a churning accompaniment. It's themes are repeated, mulled over, given slight variations and shifting textures with each pass over the familiar terrain. 'Rain' is followed by the Chopin-inspired 'Dark Rhapsody,' a turbulent, rolling journey. The haunted vocal rises and falls over irregular meters, creating a mood both comforting and unsettling. The instrumental 'Prelude To Floyd' leads into the album's centerpiece: 'Floyd' is a story-song with a spare, plain-spoken lyric in the style of Leonard Cohen. An exercise in anticipation, it's themes are mirrored in the parallel narratives of a telephone call from a past lover and the preparations for an approaching storm. The quiet melancholia of 'The Ride Home' is next. The composition slowly builds through repetition, exploding in ecstacy before subsiding again into darkness and setting the stage for the stark, prayer-like 'For Elisa.' Reverent and deeply felt, this improvisation is a fitting conclusion to the suite of six recordings that make up the first part of the album. After a minute of silence (for purposes of separation as well as a sort of auditory clearing) the second part of the album commences with the fourteen-minute opus 'Nine Verses.' With a melody reminiscent of an old Irish refrain, it has the feel of an epic lament. Weighty, spacious and moving.
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