Album Review - Orenda Fink, 'Blue Dream'

Orenda Fink
Blue Dream
Saddle Creek

There are plenty of meditative tomes on death and the afterlife. Mortality is undeniably universal, and often artists worry about their legacies. Humans, in their passing, can continue to offer love, guidance and support to those that cared for them… but what about beloved pets? Do our four-legged friends get a cozy place in the hereafter where we can one day reunite and play fetch with the stars?

That’s the query songstress Orenda Fink of Azure Ray faces in her latest solo album, Blue Dream. The story goes that her canine companion of 16 years, Wilson, died and left the musician absolutely lost. Desperation and solemnity ooze into every pore of Blue Dream, but it’s not an ugly collection. It’s more of a reverence or a séance for Wilson, in which Fink promises to remember her pup always, no matter what it takes.

Things get heavy from the get-go, with the Tarot-related tale “Ace of Cups.” Over a reserved beat, the alto croons to the departed, while ambient embellishments pad the track. As the album progresses, so, too, does her acceptance of death. “This Is a Part of Something Greater” is a whisper to the universe, an exhale as a gift. “Your broken Jesus is in pieces,” she sings, suggesting that conventional understanding of going to God when one dies might not be the answer she needs. These songs swear on the souls of our animal kin. They’d be ideal to license to the ASPCA.

The structure of Blue Dream is gauzy, evanescent. Fink never emotes above an indoor voice— maybe a misfire for a late-summer release. Its mourning is autumnal, and the artist is crystalline as a leafy lake. The dream is anchored with acoustic guitars, ghostly noises and a heavenly dose of reverb. We’re sure someone up there likes Orenda, and it’s not just Wilson.

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