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July/August 2002

Leni Stern
Finally the Rain Has Come
Leni Stern Recordings

The rare musical poet whose compositions can be at once heartbreaking and life affirming, Leni Stern infuses Finally the Rain Has Come (LSR) with both stream-of-consciousness meandering and pop sensibility. Stern, whose eloquent guitar work sets off her wounded-to-sharp vocals, offers mostly delicate songs of peace and personal inspiration here, from the gently picked "Love Everyone," to the mystical touches of Indian accents on "By the Stars Above" and on the album's title track. Familiar formats get an earthy tweak in Stern's hands, from the weary, haunted quality of the blues grounding "Bury Me Standing" (underscored by George Whitty's Hammond organ) to the Roches-recalling vocal harmonies of "Empty Hands," bringing together optimism and world-weariness in the lyrics: "I have run to the other side of the world/And I've taken you with me in my heart." Stern reprises several pieces as instrumentals, bringing them starkly different emotional reads. As a resonant guitar duet with Bill Frisell, "Empty Hands," for example, almost sighs and breathes as the two guitars intertwine. That striking intimate quality also comes across in Stern's more epic pieces, like "Where Is God" and "For Peace to Come," which tackle larger themes from a highly personal point of view.

Originally published in July/August 2002
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