You can hear the history in this solo release from local singer-songwriter Gary Davenport (“founder member,” the shrink-wrap sticker helpfully informs us, of Mannequin, Himmel, and Red Square), which was 15 years in the making and draws from four-plus decades of mellowed-out musical history, from Arthur Lee to Sufjan Stevens. In its best moments at least (“Remember Always the Sea,” The Excess of Empire”) Wonder is an unplugged head-trip, holding interest for extended instrumentals that feature few instruments not welcome at a renaissance fair. Occasionally though (“The Wonder of this Life,” the first eight minutes of 13-minute-plus “Union of Opposites” ) the seconds drag and the combination of acoustic guitar, flute, and violin is too easy to mistake for adult contemporary. The word “Sting” should not come to mind. Davenport’s tendency toward ponderous lines that ignore both rhythm and rhyme, a la Astral Weeks-era Van Morrison, becomes detrimental when the backing arrangements lag: The lyrics aren’t so life-changing, and Davenport’s voice lacks the power to sell them by himself. Listen long enough, though, and your patience is rewarded with some revelatory moments of intricate folk-rock composition that prove it’s possible to build intensity without upping the amps.
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