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FLASHLIGHT: A Closer Look at... Bradley Hathaway

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FLASHLIGHT: A Closer Look at... Bradley Hathaway
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This highly successful and imaginative underground poet — best known for his self-deprecating jaunts through scene culture and relationship failure — has taken on the task of self-marketing.

Hathaway is releasing his first solo album of music, The Thing That Poets Write About, The Thing That Singers Sing About, without a record label. Though folk in nature, this isn’t exactly what I would call run-of-the-mill from a sonic singer/songwriter standpoint.

What he lacks in vocal repertoire Hathaway more than makes up for with bravado, creativity, apropos subject matter and packaging value. In fact, the album tells the “fictitious” story of a man (I wonder who this might be?) who falls in love, asks the girl to marry him, then is turned down. The album, lighthearted on the first several tracks, becomes quite heavy as his character deals with loss and finding new faith in the process. The beauty of his perspective is that he has no fear in showing the vulnerability of rejection (something all of us have dealt with), without giving in to exercising despair and hopelessness.

“I actually recorded the entire album in a rural house near Winchester, Kentucky,” says Hathaway. “A friend of mine chopped down a tree near the house as a child, then decided to revisit the place, only to discover it might make a great place to hole up and record. I stayed there for months in exchange for lawn mowing and teaching the children of the house piano. This album has a lot of that house and that family infused in it — from the sounds to the spirit in it. It truly was a magical and unique experience living there and working there.”

The instrumentation on the record includes acoustic guitar, cello and mandolin, among other stringed instruments. Though his vocal delivery is at times a bit pitchy and two-dimensional, the heart behind the delivery is what is to be most noted here. It is no secret this guy has some witty insights into the things that those who love music, poetry, love and life experience on a day-to-day basis.

Hathaway has done a great job with the concept, artwork and packaging. Not only is there an 80-page booklet included with the disc, with some great photography of the landscape in and outside of that small house in Kentucky, but also a journal of the process in addition to lyrics, tab and producer commentary. There is even a DVD included of the woman who owns the house telling stories of her many decades spent there.

Again, though somewhat sad in subtext, the ultimate resolve of this work is the education in faith one can receive when turning loss heavenward.

 

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