Last week I hiked up the “mountain” (a moment for our west coast friends to laugh) of Mountain Grove, home of the Evening Hymns. The same colours glowing on the album cover burned bright, the same quiet energies that inspired the album title catered deep thought and prompted rest atop the hill. But unlike Evening Hymns’ previous record Spectral Dusk, Quiet Energies is not paralyzed by grief and it is not about standing still, like I did atop Mountain Grove, in an effort to stay close to the past. It’s about going forward. Described by Jonas Bonnetta as a “driving record,” Quiet Energies is nostalgic but strong and finds Bonnetta looking ahead, saying as much in the opener “If I Were A Portal”: “I guess it’s best to keep moving, it’s all revealed in good time.”
Marked by this strong spirit, the album is less organic and folk driven than Bonnetta + co’s past work. The immediacy of the steady drum beat and added wurlitzer and guitar combo (plus a later bongo inclusion!) of “If I Were A Portal” make for new sonic territories that feel refreshing. Likewise the motivated, fast-paced tempo of “All of My Life I Have Been Running,” which caters to windows-down highway driving, is almost euphoric as Bonnetta accepts his “cluttered state mind.”
Between the backing oo-la-las, playful guitar part, and the most poppy Evening Hymns melody to date, “House of Mirrors” shines. About breaking out of the suffocating cycle of worry and sadness, “House of Mirrors” celebrates finding freedom (“you release me”) and the simple (“we lay there intertwined in the morning”) and happy moments in life.
Even in the record’s quieter moments, Bonnetta’s words are different – they’re is a strength to them. In “Rescue Teams” he reflects on the darkest moments of his life and though it’s a challenging process, in turn strives to find the light. Mirroring the reflective finale and title track of Spectral Dusk, is Quiet Energies’ sprawling closer “Light as a Feather.” Though both songs mark a particularly quiet moment in their respective records, where “Spectral Dusk” is an exhausted choke of grief, “Light as a Feather” is calmer. As shimmering strings weave throughout the song, Bonnetta reveals he’s “found some solace, found some starlight, found the calm in my soul” before floating away to whatever new adventure he finds.
Quiet Energies is the sound of grief being put down. The pain is still there, it will always be there, but there’s a lightness now.
Top Tracks: “If I Were A Portal”; “House of Mirrors” ; “All of My Life I Have Been Running”
Rating: Hunting Call (Excellent) + *swoop*