It took nearly four years for Brian Daly to release the second Sunshine for the Blind album but it’s not like he hasn’t been keeping busy as DNA Studios co-owner and producer/engineer extraordinaire. At any rate, the wait was worth it and I’m pretty sure Daly used all that time polishing up this eight-song collection.
As one might expect, “Second Self” is expertly produced. Although SFTB is a trio (with bassist ken Stevenson and drummer Andrew Rohn), there is ample sequencing and programming involved; each track is dense with layered sounds and nifty effects. That doesn’t lessen the authenticity of the performances, however. Each sparkles with originality and leaves plenty of breathing space.
Daly’s music has always reminded me of the Police for some reason. Like that band, circa Ghosts in the Machine, there is something unsettling in its dark undercurrents. Like the Police’s Andy Summers, Daly knows how to invent an ingenious guitar line upon which most of these songs are constructed. He never takes things too far, building off the groove but staying within concise bounds while adding just enough sweeteners, primarily in tasteful layers of guitar overdubs. The result is intricate rock music with introspective and at times cryptic lyrics that will keep your ears buzzing.
“Kneel Before the Void” comes closest to a song with a big payoff with vocal harmonies as big as any SFTB have recorded yet. The extended guitar solo is a nice touch, one he doesn’t employ too often. Yet he follows that track up with a scorching solo on “Shadow of a Doubt” a song built on a complex rhythmic pattern and a clinic in effective guitar layering. “The Door” is another compelling track, its modal tonality hypnotizing. “Come Clean” closes the album on a high note, a rollicking tune that sums up the album’s underlying expression of a world where things are just not quite right.
Sunshine for the Blind is a great band live, despite the recording techniques used on their recordings. Somehow, Daly, who is one of the city’s best songwriters, pulls off the intricacies of his guitar playing with equally challenging vocals. In a year that’s been littered with excellent local recordings, “Second Self” will surely be right up there at the top of the list. – Rick Tvedt