Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Case Studies - This Is Another Life

Album review by jay@thesoundofconfusion.co.uk

With Case Studies, Jesse Lortz gives you a remarkable world and journey. This world is opened to you with 'In A Suit Made Of Ash'. It has a sombre pace, but refuses to wallow in the maudlin; this is music that lifts you by entrancing your soul. 'In A Suit...' takes you in to Lortz' world, allows you to see his follies, but with a piano melody so simple yet so exquisite, it all becomes uplifting. 'Passage Me In The Dark' sits Lortz alongside Mark Kozelek as writer able to nuance the smallest aspect of a scene whether dark or light, holds it to you, allowing you to bathe in it, without falling into cliche or over-wrought pathos. You hear the movement of people between rooms in the lyrics as the music leads you around the shadowed hallways. Progressing through 'In A Suit...' you become utterly captivated in it. A song of sublime beauty and power. After such rewards you could feel that what follows could be a little superfluous. Then 'Everything' is far from that. Lortz wisely lifts the mood slightly. 'Everything' is a rich, warm song, yet it still deals with those dark undercurrents where "I lost everything too". Its looser feel is beguiling, with some quite beautiful guitar closing it out.

'Villain' is a bittersweet song. Here Lortz has inflections of Rufus Wainwright and in Marissa Nadler, he brings in a bewitching voice with a huskiness close to that of Hope Sandoval. Together Lortz and Nadler dance around each other, Lortz graciously gives Nadler freedom to make her sensual mark. 'Villain' has lyrical points of a lost murder ballad all wrapped in Roy Orbison-like guitar. Befitting its title, 'Driving East, And Through Her' literally speeds into view on a driving, black-top rhythm. The most urgent and accessible song so far, it can be enjoyed for its windswept feel, or you can jump into the tale of love and loss over a "thousand miles". This is a song set on the endless American highways, where every new turn lays out another breathtaking vista. Lortz then steps away from the highway and unfurls a deep baritone akin to Mark Lanegan or Lenoard Cohen. With an almost music hall feel, 'House Of Silk, House Of Stone' elegantly stumbles into view.  Soon you are deep inside, wonderfully lost, not wanting the dance to end. 'You Say To Me, You Never Have To Ask' is that most simple of things that rarely is fully realised: a love song that speaks as we all find the vagaries of that emotion. It is an spellbinding song and if people really listened 'You Say To Me...' would be everyone's first dance song. Breathtaking.

Handclaps, simple, uplifting, drummed tattoo instantly brings a smile to your face after the majesty of 'You Say To Me...'. In 'From Richard Brautigan',  Lortz gets your foot tapping and hands clapping. It has an earthy, flamenco vibe that houses a tale of lovers measuring each other up. A short yet fresh song. 'A Beast I Have Yet To Find' is a open letter asking his love to consider him always, in all ways. Graceful strings and piano take the song up on warm currents, the song touches on the unconditional openness of love. Asking her to consider him in the dark, the light, the sensual and romantic. Another wondrous song of love's touch on you. And to 'This Is Another Life''s end. There is another, further, lovely bonus track, but to take the album as it was presented the title-track brings the curtain down. And it's an apt, bittersweet end. Not one totally shorn of hope, but it is a story of love lost, moving on, "I'd ask you to call, but I changed my name and number". But then the whole album has been a personal journey, and here we find us hearing if the light inside can truly be shone, or if it all ends, as the album does, with the final line of "a noose around the neck". 'This Is Another Life' is an album that if you can commit to it, it will enrich and stay with you for a very long time.

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