Hi, guys. Although I don’t really want to follow Eric’s last post because of its relevance, the world needs more music, and someone’s going to have to bring it, and it might as well be me. Also, it may be a little less relevant, but Evening Hymns did release Spirit Guides only just a few months ago, and I’m pretty sure the tour just ended. So, yeah. My last post on Ohbijou was really just a ploy to eventually talk about Evening Hymns, and eventually I’m going to have to cover Friends in Bellwoods because I’m really loving the layered, orchestral, organic art coming out of … Bellwoods. Canada never fails me.
So, we here at TIH sort of like to make up lots of standards to decide whether the album you listen to is the greatest album ever. For instance, I have eleven favorite songs that change every day. Eric takes it to the next level with Super Desserts, I think, which is great. I’m basing my new rule on Spirit Guides, and that is, you know the album you are listening to is the greatest album ever if there is a track where all that is happening is a thunderstorm. And you probably are thinking, “what? If I want to listen to a thunderstorm, I can just listen outside.” Except you can’t, can you? I can’t, because it’s not raining here, and it’s definitely not thundering, and I don’t live in Lakefield, Ontario, and I don’t know what the rain sounds like there, there where Jonas Bennetta was on November 1st. Eric can’t listen to one either, because he lives in the state of Freezing, where it snows instead of rains, and where it’s always winter and never Christmas. Just kidding, spoiler alert, Narnia isn’t real, but it sure snows a lot in Ohio.
Seriously though, the fact that Jonas would put a track with just a thunderstorm reflects something true about the whole album. Organic is making some kind of comeback, and I haven’t learned how to put organic musicality or organic sound into words yet, but I’m working on it. Either way, Spirit Guides is all about the organic. Song titles like “Dead Deer,” “Mountain Song,” “Mazinaw Lake,” “Tumultuous Sea,” and “Cedars” are indicative of lyrics focused on both the peace and chaos that accompany natural elements. Evening Hymns does a great job hashing out the peace and the chaos, too. The melancholic harmonies of “Cedars” will put you in a trance, the structure changes of “Tumultuous Sea” reflect just that, and if you like Fleet Foxes’ “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song,” that’s great and everything, but you should probably listen to a less Starbucksy mountain song and it should probably be “Mountain Song.”
The music major that is still hiding inside of me somewhere (I was a music history major for awhile…quit THAT because I thought I could only listen to classical music…I was wrong) loves the orchestral nature of the album, too. Sure, there’s acoustic guitar and more acoustic tracks (“History Books”), and that’s one of my soft spots anyway, but there’s practically a mini-orchestra, also. What a great way to capture lots of different emotions–with the voices of different instruments. Tracks like “Tumultuous Sea” and “Mazinaw Lake” contain long improvisational sections, and whether or not they actually are improvisations, the feel is that the sound is something coming from inside the musicians. The idea of something beautiful coming straight out of a person and their instrument, without all the fuss that is songwriting…that is freedom.
I have to say that writing a review of Spirit Guides has been pretty difficult for me because while I do love it a lot, it’s very hard to put into words exactly what Evening Hymns has done with it. What makes an album reach into your soul like this? That sounds like total cheese, but seriously, I want to know. These are indeed evening hymns; there’s something very personal, even intimate, about Spirit Guides, and that’s just what you need, I think.
Send for me a Spirit Guide/send for me a ghost/you became my shadow/as I was driving down the coast
lit up the stars in the desert/revealed the bending of the night/I held onto your hand and I/got pulled into the light
and I saw you in flannel/drifting, taking off with a pocket full of cedar/and your hand so soft
and I knew that you were with me/because I heard you turn and say/
that everybody’s gonna live forever/and no one ever dies, anyway