Peter Jones ~ Carrying Glass

Here’s something we rarely encounter: a debut album without a press release, winning a review on the basis of sound alone.  Dublin’s Peter Jones does provide us with some new vocabulary words to help decipher his music (ex. komorebi, the scattered light that filters through the trees), but for the most part we are invited to feel.  These short pieces for strings and piano reflect a yearning for something just out of reach, like a word on the tip of the tongue or a loved one we are unable to see.  This sense of fragility is borne by the title as well; while carrying glass, we are one misstep away from losing everything, a feeling shared by the whole world right now.

And yet, despite this bittersweet nature, the album also reflects on beauty, and seems grateful for its existence.  Although “Solitude” pauses from time to time, socially distancing its notes, the track delves into the beauty of contemplation more than it does loneliness, and is balanced by “Succour” in the same way as “The Winds Part II” completes its twin.  Toward the end, the strings are louder, fuller, more complete.  One might also contrast “Onism” (defined by The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows as “the frustration of being stuck in just one body, which inhabits only one place at a time”), with album closer “Imbued,” implying fullness.  Even onism reflects a desire to experience more, the opposite of withdrawal, and as such is less sorrowful than it seems.  The cover image extends the theme, reflecting abrasion’s ability to reveal, rather than to obscure allure.

The clear highlight is “Descent,” twice the length of the other tracks and three times as dramatic.  Given space to stretch, the composition expands to include a cinematic chorus offset by periods of slow contemplation.  At one point both parts are playing, suggesting a battle between thought and action.  In myth, a hero’s descent paves the way toward victory, physical or spiritual.  Jones springs forth in the fifth minute like a protagonist who has found his way; in the sixth, he pauses for a final backwards glance.  By the open-ended “Imbued,” one imagines the carried glass ~ an open-ended metaphor – set safely on a table, intact.  What began in paucity has ended in surfeit, thanks to the sunlight, the solitude, the wind: isolation has produced regeneration.  (Richard Allen)

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