Being a music critic is not really my thing. In fact, I’ve always loathed album reviews. They’re so often eye-rollingly pretentious and chock-full of subjective blabbering intended primarily to meet the minimum word count demanded by somebody’s editor. Endless yammering about idiosyncratic chord structures and time signatures, esoteric influences and the deeper symbolic meaning of this lyric, or that, topped off with insider stories intended to give the impression that the writer is somehow cool, simply by virtue of being aware of some trivial anecdote that not even the band itself would bother remembering. I actually believe that any academic analysis of art is, at best, irritating and pointless, and at worst, a real cockblock to the mind’s ability to simply take a creative work at face value and just, you know, feel something. But Whim Grace is a friend of mine, and she asked me to take a listen and write my thoughts on the album. I agreed, because I have long loved her work. So I listened. And then I listened again. I’ve been listening, for months now. I knew I liked it, but I didn’t really know what to say about it, without falling into the aforementioned quagmire of pretentiousness, so I didn’t write anything. And then I started to feel bad, because I kept not writing, which gnawed at me, because I had made a promise. But still I kept listening to the album, again and again. That part was easy, because it’s really good. Then I decided to just describe it the way I would to a friend.
Soulful, sometimes sexy, often soothing, and at all times beautiful, this album just makes me feel…better. As simple as that sounds, it’s a pretty big deal. In case you hadn’t noticed, the world is on fire. We might not have much time left to listen to anything but bombs and yelling and the weeping of the damned. And while it is certainly therapeutic to listen to something like Rage Against the Machine and raise my fists against the coming storm, sometimes I need to just sit back, calm down, pour a pint of red wine, and fade out into a happier, more hopeful place. That’s what this album does for me. That’s what her voice has always done for me. It is a voice with a singular ability to be simultaneously alluring and angelic, intensely seductive and profoundly wise. More than anything it is comforting and somehow manages to halt the creeping sadness, even when the songs are sad, themselves.
Real art is almost always borne of suffering. The best of it arrives in times of trouble because, well… it just has to. We need it. It helps us cope with fear and despair. Maybe it makes us laugh. Maybe it makes us cry. Maybe both. An artist’s torment can often assuage our own, or at least make us feel less alone, while their optimism and resilience can trick us into believing that tomorrow might be a little bit better…or maybe the day after that. This album runs the emotional gamut. There are highs and there are lows. Real feelings are expressed and many others conjured. That’s what good art does.
Here’s the most musically-technical thing I will say–the smooth, minimalist production feels and sounds almost live, and the laid-back instrumentation combines with it to create a consistency to the vibe, so that what you get is a complete album that ebbs and flows naturally, like a succession of waves lapping against a warm, sandy shore. But you don’t need me to tell you that. You can listen to it yourself and find out. It’s art, man. Just put the world on pause for a little while and listen to something beautiful. Put as much or as little thought into it as seems natural. Let your mind open up and take it in, like in the old days, before work and bills and rapid-fire technology and politics made everything so goddamn noisy and complicated. It might help to pour some wine, first. And if you like it, you can download it, right here, for only $10 and feel good about yourself for supporting a true artist, who is just trying to get by and make life sound a little bit better.