Holcombe Waller is often compared to Sufjan Stevens. It is an apt association. Like Stevens, Waller is an overachiever who has created musical theater, worked on multimedia projects and writes songs that muse on life, love and belief, which map out the heart’s and soul’s topography. Waller’s latest venture, the sparse and acoustic Into the Dark Unknown, is a rearrangement of his recent, international touring theatrical-folk show, “Into the Dark Unknown: The Hope Chest.”

Waller’s hourlong, partially live album features a dozen tunes, which represent Waller’s thoughts on social stigmatism, his dream-like surrealist portraits of friends and fellow travelers and ideas on artistic responsibility. Waller uses piano, percussion, guitar and an amazing four-octave voice to eloquently tackle themes such as mortality, depression and fleeting moments of affection and passion. Play this alongside Stevens’ Seven Swans, take some time for the lyrics to settle in and you might find yourself transported from cynicism to optimism.

Grade: A



Into the Dark Unknown is currently available.