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CD Review - William Fitzsimmons 'The Sparrow and the Crow'

William Fitzsimmons turns sadness into song.
William Fitzsimmons turns sadness into song. (By Caleb Kuhl/60 Cycle Media)

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Friday, April 17, 2009

WILLIAM FITZSIMMONS "The Sparrow and the Crow" Mercer Street

"WE WILL love again/Just not each other," muses William Fitzsimmons midway through "The Sparrow and the Crow," a song cycle inspired by his divorce and its aftermath. "Just Not Each Other" struggles about as far toward acceptance as the Pittsburgh-bred singer-songwriter can get on this doleful but delicately lovely album. At least he works past the brooding of the opening tune, "After Afterall," which turns such standard wedding vows as "till death do us part" into a self-rebuke.

The third of Fitzsimmons's self-made CDs, "The Sparrow and the Crow" was named iTunes' No. 1 singer-songwriter album of 2008 before its recent release by Mercer Street. These 12 songs expand the musician's palette, supplementing Fitzsimmons's breathy vocals and rippling guitar with assertive piano and discreet bass and drums. The most important additions are the voices of Priscilla Ahn and Caitlin Crosby, who duet on such songs as the pretty "Further From You" and the total-bummer-yet-almost-sprightly "You Still Hurt Me." An intimate, late-night sort of album, "The Sparrow and the Crow" benefits both musically and emotionally from the vocal counterpoint. When Fitzsimmons sings, "I will get farther from you," a female voice deftly pulls him back.

-- Mark Jenkins

Appearing Monday at Jammin' Java (703-255-1566, http://www.jamminjava.com). Show starts at 8 p.m.


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