Blessed Light Love Lights The Way

The brainchild of Seattle power pop craftsman Toby Gordon, this debut full-length is as warm and comforting as the picture of the sunrise on its cover. Although it would be an instinctual reaction to lump Blessed Light in with other West coast beach bums like the Sleepy Jackson and All Night Radio, Gordon and company seem to possess a much clearer vision of what they want to accomplish. In short, while it would have been easy to drench the album in a druggy haze, Gordon more often than not shows off a true gift for updating classic ’60s pop rock. Each song has at least one killer hook to recommend it, and Gordon seems to be able to shift styles at will, from the simply groovy opener "Suzanne Sunshine” to the soul ballad "My Beloved,” and the Big Star-ish "Golden Gardens.” There are also echoes of Gene Clark on "Battlefield Figurine” and Gram Parsons on "Texas Songbird.” Yet, Gordon maintains a consistent feel throughout Love Lights The Way, and wisely doesn’t let the production possibilities overwhelm the music, as many of his contemporaries often fall prey to. This one’s well worth the effort to track down. (Mill Pond)