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CD Review - Vandaveer's 'Divide & Conquer'

Vandaveer (Mark Charles Heidinger), with Rose Guerin, finds inspiration in books on his latest CD.
Vandaveer (Mark Charles Heidinger), with Rose Guerin, finds inspiration in books on his latest CD. (By Sarahana Shrestha)

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Friday, September 18, 2009

VANDAVEER

"Divide & Conquer"

Kindred spirits: Nick Drake, Richard Thompson, Vetiver

Show: Thursday at Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. Show starts at 6 p.m. 202-467-4600. http://www.kennedy-center.org.

Like any folk singer worth his weight in harmonica holders, Vandaveer has spent some time borrowing from the library.

Chief among the checked-out tomes: The Bible. The breathy Dylanesque folk tunes that make up "Divide & Conquer," the D.C.-based songwriter's second record, are rife with imagery cribbed from Testaments both Old and New. There are sacred virgins, leviathans and a prodigal child. "I want to meet Resurrection Mary/Stand before God/Speak in tongues/Hear her stories," he whispers on "Resurrection Mary."

The Good Book isn't the only one on Vandaveer's nightstand, either. Vandaveer reps the Ramona Quimby series during "Beverly Cleary's 115th Dream," a tender piano ballad, and lifts a title from William Faulkner on the bleak and blustery "The Sound & the Fury."

Extensive touring behind his first record, "Grace & Speed," has helped the singer strengthen his songwriting and bump up his street cred. A few years ago he was just a Donovan-loving vagabond dandy working the local clubs. On "Divide & Conquer," however, he has worked himself into a world-weary wayfaring minstrel with shoe-leather vocal cords.

-- Aaron Leitko


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