When a person endures a harrowing litany of tragedy and sorrow, they become a creature of the other side, altered by the fire. Such is the fate of Jamie Cameron, whose life story is a nightmare of loss and anguish. While Cameron almost died as a result of such dark accumulation, he was able to crawl to the shore of wholeness long enough to record this album, subtitling his moniker The Last Dinosaur as “Undercurrents of hope.”
The cover is ripe for interpretation, as the lower section of one person is portrayed directly while others are reflected in the water. Whether these latter images reflect ghosts or a support system is up to the viewer. Either reading is reasonable. The album’s vocal tracks walk the line between courage and trepidation, but the music speaks a different story: that of perseverance. The huge brass surge of the opening “Wholeness and the Implicate Order” is less an overture than a statement of triumph. At least for now, the pieces have begun to fit. The rain may fall, but enough sun has been stored to weather the storm.
The press release rightfully compares “In the Belly of a Whale” to Max Richter’s The Blue Notebooks. Typewriter and female poetry are the hallmarks: we are both at the keys; yours are black and white ~ but the mood makes the comparison apt. The field recording aspect extends to “Shower Song” with the sound of children in the park. Such textures imply that Cameron is engaging with the outer world as a balm to his tumultuous inner world. “Spirit of the Staircase” is the album’s jazzy center, a shift that underlines Cameron’s quest to “never write the same song twice.” Precipitation is suggested without rain, though continuing to lurk in the sonic field like doubts filed away in the mind.
The ultimate message of the album is that hope remains possible even in the hardest of circumstances. Demons can be conquered, at least for a time, long enough to declare the essential goodness of life. If Cameron is indeed the last dinosaur, we’re glad he’s survived longer than others, showing those in the midst of struggle that their efforts need not be in vain. (Richard Allen)