Graham Reid | | 2 min read
Not often you'll hear an 18th century Romantic poet and Auckland rock band Midnight Youth mentioned in the same review, but here goes.
In his Preface to the collection Lyrical Ballads (pub 1798), William Wordsworth said poetry was “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity: the emotion is contemplated till, by a species of reaction, the tranquillity gradually disappears, and an emotion, kindred to that which was before the subject of contemplation, is gradually produced”.
The key part is “emotion recollected in tranquility”, that time taken for reflection which allows a better understanding of the emotions to emerge.
Many songwriters – especially if their hearts have been broken – will rush to record the I/you emotions which can come with maudlin self-pity full of accusatory language born of hurt and so on.
Lotta first-person singular pronoun.
It usually makes for painful listening which borders on uneasy eavesdropping.
Artists like Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Julia Jacklin and Nick Cave among many others, will turn the emotion around and consider it, looking at it through a prism. The poetry then comes in the emotion recollected from a different and slightly more distant place.
And so it seems with Jeremy Redmore, formerly the singer/writer of Auckland's rock band Midnight Youth (ah-ha!) which split seven years ago and a couple of years after that he relocated to Toronto with his new partner.
By his own account he was happy there and didn't write a thing for a couple of years.
Then the relationship ended, the need for music came back and the songs – perhaps more correctly, emotions – were poured into lyrics.
But Redmore paced himself, this album was released in parts over a period of five months and make for a song cycle from hurt to healing.
There's little of that accusatory I/you here but rather an emotional confessional which opens with quietly reflective “I never even thought about the time to come after, after you . . .”.
And in that alone – a looking back at himself as one not looking forward – is an emotion recollected in tranquility, from a place of mature self-reflection and distance.
His former partner is spoken of warmly in the third person (again, interesting distancing and maturity), the happiness they enjoyed then the abruptness “you just walked out that door”, he speaks of his incomprehension and of being alone, sticking to his same old routine (a survival instinct many who've been through this will recognise here in an increasingly claustrophobic ballad) and . . .
And then “the race was run, but no one really won, and now they're done, the best in not to come” and that vain hope that she might . . .
Goodbye – over a low sound like a heartbroken harmonium – doesn't come until two thirds the way through these 11 songs, and then .
Walk Away is a lovely folk ballad and the start of the optimism shedding light and it happens in place where there is music and an intimate moment in her apartment.
“I start to think of the future . . .”
But then . . .
Finally the Southern Lights call him back here.
Redmore lays all these considered emotions and lyrics out across beds of subtle pop and electronica, holds his powerful vocals back when he needs to and lets the pain out in controlled measure.
You never get the sense of him paying out on anyone . . . other than his own psyche.
Midnight Youth were a great pop-rock band, and that's all needs be said about them.
This is an album by an adult who got there the hard way, and by contemplating his emotions rather than just throwing them out there.
That makes this – which is An Album, hard to hear a single – quite special.
You can hear and purchase this album here.