Brendan Staunton threads together songs that could be placed in any time in his triumphant album Last of the Light. 30 years in the making, for a musician and artist that had but given up on his professional music career, this collection is nowhere near a last ditch effort. Staunton is the real deal and his tunes have aged like fine wine.
A former singer in the Celtic rock band Dubh Chapter, Staunton’s professional resume also includes contributing to the band Ultramarine’s “Weird Gear” and working with former King Crimson violinist and Mellotron player David Cross and Sean Quinn. The duo’s 2016 Cold Sky Blue album melts prog rock, ambient and rock music tones. Staunton’s Last of the Light could easily shift into this state-of-mind. In songs like “Stop Believing”, “Smiled” and “A Girl” he challenges the norm with atmospheric beats and pulsating bass rhythms.
Staunton’s world is one to take time and really meander around for a while. In “We Don’t Talk About It” the vibe is rainy day, contemplative. It’s in Staunton’s voice that there’s glimmers of hope. He sings with simplicity, “just a word could leave it all behind, we don’t even talk about the things that keep us wide awake.” He follows it up with the question that listeners can relate to with “why don’t we talk about it.” The answer is of course, the truth hurts sometimes. As the sadness of this song bears down hard on the listener, the lightness and perseverance in Staunton’s voice powers through. It’s almost as if this is a companion song to Carole King’s “It’s Too Late”.
In the unexpected track “River” the imagery Staunton creates can at times feel alienated, almost historical nonfiction. “I was exiled in the end, with a whole new language, with a set of false friends,” he sings. The woodsy, country-folk like mode is in full swing. This song made me think of a singer/songwriter playing outside at a mountain lodge or campfire. I’m not sure if Staunton is making a statement on immigration or slavery, or even being lied to in a relationship. That’s what I loved most about this track – it meant different things to me on different days. I think it’s songs like “River” that took that extra time and maybe had a few different versions in Staunton’s notebook over that 30 year timeline.
“A Moment” solidifies Staunton’s pure artistic magic. While on the surface his lyrics “what I need right now is to be with you, right now, just to know that someone else is sharing in this moment,” are not prophetic, they are ageless. He doesn’t waste time or the listener’s energy. The movement in this song is emotional like a film’s score.
In “A Girl” that futuristic sound, that ambient wave engulfs the listener. “Walk through that door, the stakes are high”, Staunton sings. As a listener you feel empowered to reach through the haze, get through the muck and find your heart’s desires. That’s the thing about Staunton – he finds his way into your heart with each song.