04 Aug 2023 - Thorsten
Americana | Dark Folk | Pelagic Records | Release date: 14 Jul 2023 | Favorite song: When We Are Dogs
Man, there are myriads of ways to start talking about this record. One could talk about the single and singular tracks. About the amazing vocal performance. The amazing track arrangement. The manifold forms of one fine genre. Jaye Jayle’s former projects and their influence on this record. Let’s talk about all of it!
Jaye Jayle is the by now common stage moniker of Evan Patterson, whom many of you will know from his various projects – The National Acrobat, Breather Resist, Black Widows, Young Widows to drop just a few. The Blues-Noise-Rock of Young Widows might be the only one of those which has some kind of connection to Don’t Let You Love Life Get You Down, in the form of ”The Florist” and its stoic, pumping bass-line underneath the spheres of wide open synth and guitar lines. There is also a certain “riff-iness” in all of the finesse of the ”That Snake Bite” whose ending would also have been awesome on the Widows’ records.
The record is basically a dozen shades of Dark Americana or Gothic Folk – exactly the kind of music that Nick Cave, Mark Lanegan or David Eugene Edwards (have) perfected over the years. The songs flow not seamlessly but gently from on into the next on and if you spin the record two or three times in a row, you will notice that immersive effect to the max, for there is a certain connecting openness floating through all the songs. As if there was a certain echo effect over all the songs so that there like little peaks among the sea of Gothic Darkness. If that is the case, then one must attest that Evan’s voice are the lighthouses guiding us through. The vocals are brilliantly delivered and arranged that there is no chance of not comparing them with the aforementioned masters of Folk, Noise, Chanson and Blues, whose voices are also the biggest asset of their songs, not to say that the songs are only great because of the vocals, because they need a very well laid-out foundation on which to shine. Take the slow grower of ”Black Diamonds and Bad Apples”, which is dominated by single chord passages before the echo effect seems to transform into a synth line that then supports the vocals at spreading warm hugs that can turn bad days into wonderful evenings.
That each track contributes to a certain progression which has some stronger, slightly heavier peaks (”That Snake Bite”, “The Florist”) is not unusual but the way these are integrated here is really stunning because Jaye Jayle sometimes combines from very different genres like Noise-Punk (”Tell me Live”) and follows them with very mellow ones (here the following Shoegaze track ”Waiting for the Life”). And all of it beautifully connected via Evan’s vocals.
However, apart from the fact that this record really only has killer tracks and not one filler bummer, but one cannot leave this review with a short comment on the last track, ”When We Are Dogs” which is a quick and sure choice for Top10 tracks of 2023. The way that Patrick Shiroishi contributes with his very vocal saxophone is unbelievable as he adds these notions of lament and sorrow to a track which is already pure sadness because of Bonnie Prince Billy’s vocals. This track sounds like a lament on many moments of individual and societal history; the hushed percussion and minute bass spots combine with the reverberating short guitar moments into a track of monumental grandeur. When Will’s vocals touch these high notes the sorrow is not dripping but flooding. Think of melancholic lines like ”those streets will be ours / at least the street / where we will live again” - big hopes and high aspirations need to be dialed down to the bare minimum as this is all that mankind can hope to achieve.
Jaye Jayle has given us not a good, not a brilliant but a somewhat life-changing record, with a lot of dark moments but with an ever present hope to survive, even if the circumstances might not be the best one. David Eugene Edwards will release his record in September and he will have to bring his A+ game to top this Dark Folk masterpiece by Louisville’s finest. Let the jailed bird fly!