Indie singer/songwriters are having an epic summer, all things considered, and if you look at the new record from Brendan Staunton, Last of the Light, I think you’re going to understand why. Staunton is by no means the leader of any underground movement, but in his nine-track solo debut, he definitely gives us more than a couple of reasons to believe in the alternative beat right now. Last of the Light comes at us softly with a selection of unassumingly cutting ballads like “We Don’t Talk About It,” “Stop Believing” and “Nine Day Wonder,” delivering as many chills as it does thrills amidst an unfolding story that Staunton himself seems all too comfortable in telling. This is a good first look for his brand, and moreover, the scene it’s representing.
“Mean to You,” “Smiled” and “River” are more contrast-heavy than “Stop Believing,” “A Moment,” “Underwater” and “A Girl” are, but the combination of stylized material in this record makes it all the more alluring beside some of the more straightforward content coming out of the underground this summer. Staunton is flexing a lot of melodic muscle behind the microphone, but he’s also showcasing a multidimensionality as a songwriter here that will go a long way towards bringing listeners back for another go-round with his next LP. If the main goal in Last of the Light was to display both his focus and his overall determination inside of the recording studio, referring to this as a slam dunk might not be doing it justice.
I would have preferred “River” and “Nine Day Wonder” come closer to the conclusion of this album than they actually did, but I suppose that I can also support the evenhanded feel that Staunton was trying to achieve by going this other route. “Underwater” and “A Girl” don’t fully capitalize on the tension introduced to us in “We Don’t Talk About It” and, later, “Smiled,” as well as the aforementioned pair of songs would have, but in taking us through a slowly but surely ascending collage of emotions in this tracklist, it can be said that we get a little more catharsis from beginning to end than we would have in my proposed layout. That said, this is still a pretty solid LP even when played on shuffle, which isn’t always the case with ambitious content like Last of the Light.
Despite coming up against a lot of fierce competition from all sides – mainstream and underground alike – Brendan Staunton nevertheless turns in a memorable offering in Last of the Light that I believe indie fans are going to take to quite well this July. All nine of its songs could qualify as singles in one realm or another, and although there are a couple of hiccups that come between “We Don’t Take About It” and “A Girl,” none are significant enough to prevent enjoyment every time this LP is given a listen. Staunton has my attention right now, and if given the opportunity, I think he could win yours as well.
by Bethany Page