SIXPENCE NONE THE RICHER - THE FATHERLESS & THE WIDOW (*NEW-Orange Vinyl, Retroactive, 2020) limited just 200 copies
- Remastered to perfection by Bombworks Sound / Rob Colwell
- FREE Ripstream MP3 download with purchase
- 1st time ever on vinyl
- Orange Vinyl is perfect for the flow and feel of the Fatherless artwork
- Two-sided full color printed sleeve to hold the vinyl
- Limited Edition Vinyl of just 200 copies
- Includes "Melting Alone" from This Beautiful Mess - first time on vinyl
Side A (23 minutes):
1. Field of Flowers
3. The Fatherless and the Widow
6. Falling Leaves
Side B (22 minutes):
9. An Apology
10. Trust (Reprise)
11. Melting Alone (Bonus track from This Beautiful Mess)
ABOUT THE ALBUM
Five years before Sixpence became a household name on the wings of the stellar international hit that was “Kiss Me,” a truly delightful romantic piece of folk/pop brilliance that landed at exactly the right time in the cultural zeitgeist, guitarist and songwriter Matt Slocum and the still teenage vocalist Leigh Nash were learning how to combine their talents and create alternative music that mattered in New Braunfels, Texas. Perhaps inspired by the Christian rock breakthrough in California a decade earlier, when bands like The Choir, Altar Boys and Undercover had stretched the sonic and lyrical boundaries of what was possible and now fellow 90s bands like The Prayer Chain and Poor Old Lu were getting ready for their turn at bat.
Slocum’s interest in rich textured guitar sounds is evident from the very beginning of their 1993 debut, The Fatherless & The Widow, an image drawn from the concern of the Hebrew prophets for their community’s most vulnerable members, widows and orphans, which Jesus later describes as “the least of these,” in his parable in Matthew 25. Crisp chords ring out like chimes as a tapestry of textures cascade down a waterfall of sound, an orchestral chorus relying on layers of six stringed instruments and the odd cello, which combine to mark the territory Slocum is discovering for himself, an echo of influences like Derri Daugherty (The Choir), Johnny Marrs (The Smiths), Peter Buck (R.E.M.).
No less pronounced and crucial to the 6p sound is the bright, pure and natural voice of Nash, who can effect a childish whisper, or cut through the whirling dervish of sound to create a melodic center that holds and will not be lost in the fury that surrounds her. Whether interpreting an ancient psalm in a lush orchestrated piece, as she does in “Trust (Reprise)” which closes the album, or the album’s more challenging emotions of the title track and the opening song, “Field of Flowers,” she finds just the right emotional resonance to bring home the pictures that Slocum’s music evokes.
Surely, no one believes that Nash and Slocum arrived in Nashville to work with Steve Taylor, to create the band’s self-title breakthrough for the fledgling Squint label, fully realized like being hatched from an egg, all ready for prime time and a shot at international stardom. On The Fatherless & The Widow, The Beautiful Mess and the Tickets for a Prayer Wheel we see their earliest test flights, learning to soar on their own wings, testing the waters and working out a sound and expression that was both heartfelt and personal, but universally relevant. The fruit of their efforts came early and often, so long-time fans and some who only listened to their radio hits will find these reissues well worth tracking down. If you only catch an artist at their commercial apex, you may miss the beauty and depths of their creative endeavors that lead up to their breakthrough and echo its impact in subtle ways for as long as they are willing to dip pen into ink, strike a chord, and sing one true note.
By Brian Quincy Newcomb
Brian Quincy Newcomb, a minister of The United Church of Christ, has been a rock critic and music journalist since the early 80's, contributing over the years to CCM Magazine, Billboard, Paste, The Riverfront Times, and The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. From 1986 to 1994, he was the editor of The Harvest Rock Syndicate.