Best known as the frontman for the Decemberists, Colin Meloy has occasionally gone the solo acoustic route. Sings Live!, compiled from assorted performances across the USA in 2006, is a generous (74 minutes) document of Meloy au naturel, so to speak. For Decemberists fans, this is the chance to hear some of their catalog (the stark 'n' stirring "We Both Go Down Together," the rarity "Bandit Queen") in a stripped-down context while Meloy establishes himself as a compelling performer outside the band. For a Montana lad, Meloy has an extremely "English-sounding" voice, evoking pre-flower power Donovan (circa "Catch The Wind"), albeit with a passionate vibrato, and folk singer Martin Carthy. While no virtuoso, Meloy's crisply rhythmic, rolling guitar chords give him all the support he needs, while his cordial, self-effacing between-song patter offsets his songs' persistent somberness. Meloy also tips his songwriter's hat to some of his muses, interweaving bits of Fleetwood Mac ("Dreams"), Shirley Collins (the traditional British Isles ballad "Barbara Allen"), and Pink Floyd ("Fearless") into his arrangements. Sings will make a nice gift for Decemberist devotees and that uncle/aunt of yours that's a hardcore unplugged-folk fan.
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