ironic depictions of war, wealth, and the ideologies that justify the first for the second under the banner of freedom. Politicis aside, there's much to be commended in Hanifi's clear and commanding vocals and the album's musical range, which coolly spans pop, country, and blues. Compromise rarely sounds this harmonious.
Despite its title, A Brief Respite is anything but, with each song smartly questioning and confronting power in its various traditional forms. Money and social class bear the weight of Hanifi's scrutiny in "The Splendor of Empire," whose lyrics suggest the impossibility of matching and maintaining the aggressive pace of fortune. The pop song's shimmering and palatial sound features Hanifi's quick plucking on acoustic guitar and the keyboard electro-riches of Jonathan Visger, a local indie musician who helped produce the album. When just Hanifi and drummer Chuck Mauk performed the number in July at Top of the Park, Hanifi prefaced it with a wry proposal to the audience: "If anyone can spot the Warren Buffett quote, I'll give you $5." Lucky for Hanifi, only one man took him up on the offer.
The quote in question comes from a 2006 New York Times interview in which Buffett confirms class warfare between the rich and everybody else. Yet, just as Hanifi avoids the partisan divide, he resists labeling and sorting people according to dollar signs. Earlier this year, Hanifi stated on this album's Kickstarter website that the goal of these songs is to inspire dialogue beneficial to everyone--the 100 percent.