Jordan’s Klassen’s Javelin is a lot of things, but boring isn’t one of them.
The Vancouver-based soloist’s latest album lives up to his self-ascribed genre of “new age folk,” blending the gentle, soothing dynamics of new age music with soft classical guitar lines and swooning string sections.
Still, Klassen’s music incorporates much more than that. “Glory B” starts things off with a sparse intro of vocal harmonies, cavernous percussion, and a distant, delayed guitar line. All of this gradually crescendos and morphs into something groovier and world music-infused for the remainder of the song, and conjures up a vibe similar to Peter Gabriel (1992’s Us in particular).
“Gargoyles” and “Baby Moses” use the string section to great effect. “Gargoyles” – the album’s longest track at over five minutes – keeps the world music-inspired percussion going while alternately plucked or softly bowed violin melodies drive the song forward. The strings are even more prominent on “Baby Moses,” which adopts a waltz-like tempo and rhythm for its verses, but dives headlong into indie-pop on the chorus.
According to Klassen, Javelin’s primary lyrical theme is one of self-reflection on past failures. With that in mind, the lyrics are fairly general proclamations of lost love and regret – but that’s not to say they’re derivative or poorly written. Klassen’s lyrics are plenty poetic and well-thought-out, but it seems as though they’re meant to be universally relatable and unobtrusive, not pointed and verbose.
“Baby Moses” sports the album’s best heart-wrenching line in “you could have filled up our house with the notes of an unloved mouth.”
With such dense instrumentation and effects-laden vocals, Javelin required pristine production quality and thankfully Klassen – who produced the album himself in addition to playing nearly every instrument – provided just that. The whole album sounds warm and uncompressed, and never sacrifices dynamics for volume.
While Klassen’s album is extremely well-executed and an intriguing, engaging listen, it’s not exactly energetic music. Javelin is a great album to throw on for a slow, late-night drive or as a focus aid for any creative task, but the soft, droning tone of songs like “We Got Married” and “Smoking Too Long” could lull you into a peaceful slumber mid-jog.
Jordan Klassen will perform at the Park Theatre with local synth-pop outfit Ghost Twin on March 27. Tickets are $15 in advance, and are available at the Park Theatre, Music Trader, or online via www.ticketfly.com