Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Half-Handed Cloud

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I'm grateful that Sufjan Stevens's success, if it hasn't put the cool back in Christian indie rock, has at least taken a bit of shame out of being an eager Bible-study dork making orchestral records in your bedroom. Musicians who try to hide their Christianity are almost offensive, especially when compared to faithful servants like John Ringhofer, aka Half-Handed Cloud. A foot soldier in Sufjan's Jesus-love mob--he plays trombone in the Illinoisemakers and records for Stevens's Asthmatic Kitty label--Ringhofer sings about the Holy Ghost like most dudes sing about girls. His too-high voice sounds like a prepubescent Ben Gibbard, and he sings with an unwavering earnestness that perfectly fits his direct, prayerful addresses. On the recent full-length Halos & Lassos, biblical phrases tumble clumsily with his own poetic turns on spiritual mysteries like the nature of God's grace, atop the sort of low-rent orchestration one can only achieve using thrift-store keyboards. His quick, succinct songs are moving, sweet, and utterly prepossessing. Singleman Affair headlines, Liz Janes & Create play second, and Half-Handed Cloud opens. Thu 3/30, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8.

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