Available Light
(self-produced, 2001)

Celtic folk-rock is still a somewhat-new genre to me, so I was pleased to enjoy this offering from Fathom, an upstate New York band with a fun and folky sound. The songs have a timeless quality and a spiritual, though not overtly religious, theme running through their lyrics. The mix of Celtic influence shown in the fiddles and almost jazzy percussion created a unique sound I relished to hear.

"The Only Way" showcases the clear and passionate vocals of John DiBartolo, along with sprightly acoustic guitar. Fiddles add a classic sound with a great beat that incites dancing in "Give It to the Wind." Track three, "Somewhere to Go" juxtaposes sadder lyrics with a cheerful tune, sneaking into the mind of the listener to be hummed at a later point.

"Shining Bright" has a countryish sound, though joyous rather than depressing, and it's easy to picture couples dancing together to this song. "Lady Wisdom" is more political and strident, despite the smooth vocals and optimistic guitar riffs by lead guitarist Shawn Richards. Still, it is definitely one of the highlights of the album. A harder-edged rock sound opens "Run and Hide," reminding me of early U2, though with more melodic and less jangly guitars. The closing song, "Same Old Roads," again poses serious lyrics with a jaunty, upbeat tune. It's probably the happiest breakup song I've every heard.

Fathom is a band for people who appreciate thoughtful and insightful lyrics with excellent musicality and a unique blend of Celtic, blues, jazz, folk and rock. I found them well worth the listen.

- Rambles
written by Beth Derochea
published 31 July 2004

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