Glenn Jones ~ Fleeting

coverOne can’t help but notice Glenn Jones‘ unified cover aesthetic: a finger-picking cat, a finger-picking squirrel, a finger-picking four-leaf clover (our favorite), a finger-picking dog, and now a finger-picking hare (although this may be the same finger-picking hare as seen on Black Twig Pickers’ Even to Win is to Fail, bringing things full circle).  The folky charm of these illustrations comes to bear on these colorful compositions, while the homespun generosity is apparent on the tunings that accompany the album.  Tunings, you say?  Yes, as Jones does his own tunings on guitar and banjo, and without the map, one is unable to navigate them at home.

It would be easy to say that Jones is a happy artist, as he’s been featured on our famous Happiest Music of the Year chart before and many of his entities are smiling: in this case, the hare and the moon.  But on this album, it’s more accurate to call his music warm.  After the ebullient opener, “Flower Turned Inside-Out,” the tempo calms down, and “In Durance Vile” is downright somber (or as somber as Fahey-inspired guitar can be).  Yet one can hear the birds outside the window of the house in which it was recorded.  And as much as Jones is identified with a particular style (self-tuned with partial capos), the artist hopes that the feeling of his pieces comes through; and on this album, it does.

The album’s title introduces its theme.  Fleeting is about the nature of life, of art, of memory, of circumstance.  Two songs are written for a friend’s baby (including one track played so softly as to allow the child to sleep), one for a childhood home, three for the poems of an abstract painter.  The closing piece demonstrates its bittersweet nature with its title:  “June Too Soon, October All Over.”  This is more introspective work than we’re used to hearing from the artist, yielding a welcome expansion of themes.  The rush of water at the end of “Spokane River Falls” offers one of the artist’s finest moments to date, shifting from the evocative to the actual; we would have preferred a longer field recording with a slower fade, but it’s still a sweet surprise.  If all things are fleeting, it’s best to appreciate them while they last. (Richard Allen)

Available here

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