Thy is a Word & Feet Need Lamps
The mostly narrative songs of Half-handed Cloud’s Thy is a Word and Feet Need Lamps revisit Bible verses and stories- predominantly Old Testament- that you may not have heard in Sunday school. Why recount the murder, mayhem, and sordid situations in The Good Book (a.k.a. The Bible)? Because as a whole it covers the entire spectrum of life, both the good and bad. Half-handed Cloud, never didactic in their work, refrain from drawing conclusions, but subtly and cinematically directs listener’s eyes and ears to the space between the words, leaving interpretation up to them. Be it tent pegs to the head, or cooking bread over human manure, you will be wooed by Half-handed Cloud’s ability to make these stories the most bittersweet of pop ditties.
Half-handed Cloud’s third album for Asthmatic Kitty, “Thy is a Word and Feet Need Lamps” delivers an enlightening new collection of signature songs by singer/songwriter/ multi-instrumentalist John Ringhofer. Half-handed Cloud’s first two full-length albums, “Learning About Your Scale (2001)” and “We Haven’t Just Been Told, We Have Been Loved (2002)” left critics struggling to draw comparisons with other artists, but Ringhofer acknowledges the influence of Brian Wilson, the Beatles, and some impossibly obscure musicians whose experimental music came of age in the 1960s.
Influences aside, there is really no one quite like Half-handed Cloud. The album features guitars, cellos, pianos, bassy/breathy church organs, woodwinds, brass, non-instrument sounds, an eight-person choir, and various percussion, recorded almost entirely in the roomy space of a church sanctuary.
An accomplished painter and former teacher in the South Pacific, Ringhofer is known to search all quarters for sound-making devices to augment his multi-instrumental abilities. Combining this proclivity with his seemingly unlimited imagination and melodic gifts, he has staked out previously uninhabited musical territory, visitors always welcome.
A frequent member of Sufjan Steven’s touring band, Ringhofer is joined here by Stevens on drums; “Thy” was mixed by Daniel Smith of the Danielson Famile, and mastered by Rafter Roberts, of label-mates Bunky.