Scaling down his SF sorrow to strive and soar, sinewy songwriter searches for the sun – and finds it.
Ray Vaughn may have measured the boundaries of art-rock with HOSTAGES and of avant-garde with DIE BOSA NOVA more than three decades ago but before that the American had been soaking punk aesthetics in the U.K., which shows on his second album after the return from a 20-year-long limbo in 2013. A follow-up to “Way Down Low” in terms of chronology and mood, the songs on “Wounded Bird” are much more fleshed out and, for the most part, are full-band performances. Thanks to this, groove is the thing here taking the title track get high on tom-toms’ rumble while Ray’s audible smile shines through the twang of his bluesy guitar sending golden splinters into the heart of gloom, yet such a nocturnal chime is the reason why the surf sway of “Change In Latitude” so alluring.
There is acoustic grandeur in the beginning, but it’s broken almost immediately, with a sneer propelling a cosmic jive of “Human Calculator” towards angular pop, although raw emotionality is back for “It Happened On Willow Street” – the rootsy finale on the record. No wonder, then, that the romantic “Song For You” is built on a folk march, and that the cover of “True Faith” turns out darker, heavier and more profound than NEW ORDER’s original. With its Prairie Prince-propelled playfulness, “Been Away Too Long” is a ray of sunny joy in the overall murk whose slider lines harden before unfolding into the elegiac, if slightly angry, country rock of “Rain” where Vaughn is bringing all the strains of his method together.
If this is his way of healing and preparing to fly high, that’s the right spirit.