Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Review of Jeremy Gilchrist's "Causality"

I dropped this review a few minutes ago on the Sputnik Music website.

The day I put together my notes for this review, I got an email from bandcamp that Jeremy's new EP Threaded was being released the next day. Figures, right? Serves me right for waiting so long to review this one.

The rock opera referenced in the review is, of course, Tom Cavanagh's brilliant The Pisces Rock Opera.

Anyway, here's the review:

Review Summary: This album uses stark alternative acoustic music to weave together themes of social despair with stories of science fiction and time travel.

Jeremy Gilchrist is an interesting person. He's a weather enthusiast, who's never happier than when he's chasing down a storm, or stuck in the middle of a hurricane or a blizzard. He's lived in various locations up and down the East Coast of the U.S., finally landing in tiny Winooski, Vermont. He's been a character in another artist's rock opera, where he's described as someone who will "sing you songs of death, and laugh maniacally." Yet he's also an idealist. Most importantly, at least as far as this site is concerned, he's a talented indie musician whose influences include Roger Waters, Dave Matthews and Neil Young. But if I had to try to really encapsulate his style in a single sentence, I'd say that he sounds like a sparser, more minimalistic version of The Decemberists.

Causality is Gilchrist's third full-length album, and it's his best. It weaves together feelings of social despair and hopes for a better future with themes of science fiction and time travel, ending up with what an episode of Rick and Morty might sound like if it was translated into folk music. The songs are mostly slow- to mid-tempo, and quite heartfelt. There's an earnestness to them you can't help but love.

The best track on the album by far is "Letter from the 21st". This song takes the form of a musical missive to future generations, apologizing for the shortcomings of our current times, hoping that they've learned from our mistakes, and wishing he could be there to share in a better future. The song is quiet, and rapturously beautiful. Although the lyrics are sarcastic in places ("Sorry you can't drink money/It suited us just fine"), and filled with regret, there's an underlying sweetness to it. The underlying sentiment is that the world can get better, even though the artist believes that he won't be there to see it. It's a stunning achievement.

Other noteworthy numbers include "The Great Escape", a darker number where Gilchrist lets loose just a little with his own unique style of musicality (the songs-of-death-and-maniacal-laughter Gilchrist described in the aforementioned rock opera), and "Time Traveler", a more upbeat track that references multiverses, time machines and rearranged time lines.

Causality is as strong an example of independent alternative folk music as I could possibly recommend to you. It's an album that deserves exposure to a much wider audience.

Rating: 4 of 5 stars