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Slices of stories,
This review is from: Good Morning! Sunshine (Audio CD)
"good morning! sunshine" is Jaspar Loes's third album, following a year after her alluring and dynamic "billboard in this faint little light." Like "billboard," and before it her debut "Songs for Charlie," this album features Jaspar's beautiful voice, tremendous range, and tuneful yet simple melodies.
When I listen to an album, I listen for themes, for threads, for story. I wrote about "billboard" that "there are fewer stories on this album ... these songs are a little more abstract, a little more challenging to interpret." That trend deepens with "good morning! sunshine." The tapestry that inspired these songs is surely rich in stories, but the songs don't tell the stories directly -- instead they tell about individual scenes, slices of life, snapshots from the stories. No ballads here. The characters are mostly offstage -- no names, only pronouns. Here you won't find the silent, amber-eyed Liza Bean (from "Songs for Charlie"), or Amy the rockhound (from "billboard"). You will find an unnamed little sister celebrating her birthday (in the title track); a friend on her way out the door ("she's leaving"); a friend already gone ("said goodbye").
And you'll find -- again unnamed, just a pronoun -- the singer herself. Her emotions are a little more complex, a little closer to the surface, than in her earlier albums. The themes of love and faith that suffused "billboard" are back, but edgier, more raw, less certain. Of her departing friend ("she's leaving"): "I'm scared I won't feel goodbye / And I'm scared I won't know how to love her / And I'm afraid I haven't known all this time." Of her own journey ("no lying on the road"): "It's a long way to heaven / And I don't think I'm going / There's no lying to myself anymore ...." But even her emotional exploration, like all her music, is couched in beautiful poetry: "As moonlight grew the stars / I was lost in a sea of unseen love ..." ("lost and found").
The two standout songs are "8:15" and "broken." "8:15" is really a snapshot, the song named after the moment on the clock when "the sun's breaking clean through the clouds" and our heroine, caught up in the moment, belts out that "no, your heart is not ready for me!" The tune and lyrics of "broken" are full of nervous energy: "I want to follow you to the place where you promised things / I want to go down deep into your bones ... I got all this hate inside and it won't go away from me / Just have to wait it out ... It isn't the time to love / Gotta hold it inside of me ...."
Jaspar Loes is the most intriguing new singer / songwriter that I have heard in a few years, well worth getting to know. I loved this album, and can hardly wait for the next one.