I wasn't that crazy about Flee the Century's last album, The Border of Light, so if I ever got a hankerin' for some FTC, I would have to march down to one of their maniacal live shows. Totally worth the hike and everything, but they were starting to burn holes in my wallet and liver.
Thank God Beyond the Moonwalker is everything I'd hoped for. It excels in every aspect in which their previous efforts fell short. More important, they were able to translate their live presence to an album. In short, this disc boasts better songs from a better band -- proof that they have been growing since Day One. Additionally, they're one of the few bands that this city proudly stamps "Property of Spokane" (at least for now). And while they sound like no other band you've heard, something tells me that FTC's scream-dance-synth-rock would be just as embraced in any of the more "happening" cities along the West Coast.
Griffith, whose songs have been covered by Kathy Mattea, Emmylou Harris and Willie Nelson, takes a turn as the interpreter of tunes in the torch-song tradition. She has matured from the little-girl voice of her early days to a throaty, low register that especially complements the three Tom Waits covers -- tales of love gone awry and lost loves recalled, full of sass and attitude. "Please Call Me, Baby" is the best of the bunch, along with the bluesy "Drops From the Faucet," penned by guitarist Frank Christian. She revisits a couple of her old compositions, including "Late Night Grand Hotel," which brings the bittersweet wisdom of age to the song's original heartbreak. Background strings work well on most numbers, evoking smoky late-night clubs or the best country ballads -- but skip the '70s pop hit "Bluer Than Blue," which evokes only polyester and plaid for those whose memories go back that far.