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Fairlane

Light So Bright – 2009 (Chrome Heart)

Reviewed by Andy Turner

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CDs by Fairlane

Featuring a superb lineup of notable guest musicians, Fairlane's biggest assets are the gut-punching words and vocals of lead singer and songwriter Hayley Rupe. She absolutely shines on the debut effort from this Richmond, Va.-based husband-wife duo.

The husband in question is one Bob Rupe, former lead guitarist for The Silos and bassist for Cracker as well as frequent guest slinger and producer. Several of his esteemed former band mates and friends, including Steve Wynn, Johnny Hott, Chris Cacavas, Stephen McCarthy and Linda Pitmon lend a hand. The late Bryan Harvey, of House of Freaks fame and Bob Rupe's bandmate in Gutterball, plays guitar on the slow-grinding If Only the Sky Was Blue, and the album is dedicated to him and his family, who were brutally murdered in their Richmond home on New Year's Day 2006.

The idea that the song is one of Harvey's last recordings adds to the sense of sadness and loss that permeates these 12 tracks. Hayley Rupe's breathy, soulful vocals on songs such as Heavy Heart, Not on My Mind and the disc-ending The Front Door and the often spare sound of the album also contribute much to the late night, red-eyed vibe. She's often a hell of a sexy singer as well especially on the gritty Taste Your Love and the leadoff track Wanna Get Old, both of which just might make you think of Lucinda Williams. Such comparisons aside, Rupe is a distinctive and welcome new talent, and "Light So Bright" deserves your full attention.