It was Michelangelo that drew me in. Its fuzzed country / folk strum, and “I`m a 3-legged dog…and a part of me will always be looking for what I lost” lyric – that made me think of Springsteen`s theme for Darren Aronofsky`s The Wrestler. Another song that spoke to me directly and immediately. But Cassandra’s ode to those who are wrong for us, and yet we have an incurable weakness for, while sweetened by strings, isn’t really representative of this album at all.
Sure as a set it`s concerned with heartbreak, perhaps more specifically grief and loss, but the rest of the record isn’t buzzing with simple raw rockers, instead its spinning gently, closer to jazz. This maybe best illustrated by the instrumental, The Ramble – a divine drift, a musical mirage, of microtones, field recorded birdsong, children’s chatter, and saxophone. More the kind of “ambience” that Virgina Astley indulged in.
The actual songs, such as Hailey, are sad, but optimistic, resolved, and focused on healing. Their protagonists moving forward, not beating themselves up for sometimes looking backward, understanding that often, in order to survive, this is the scheme of things. You know, “that which I can`t change, that which I can”, that old adage. Poetic narratives that flow and sing of curative salt waters – a weightlessness that will wash away worry and regret – accompanied by brushed drums and reeds. Tremolo`d cries forming the coda on Crosshairs` call for warmth, a fleeting moment of distraction, the chance to forget for a while. Accepting that for some, no matter where you roam, the blues will always run the game. I guess you gotta learn to be cool with that.
Hard Drive opens with a sampled quote from Gabriel Roth, or some similar new age guru, and unfolds into an incredibly moving piece of prose. Referencing in passing Saint Germain, Theosophy`s Ascended Masters, “The Hierarch of the Age of Aquarius” – my copy of the album is violet, the colour of amethyst, his associated stone. With a sly, wry, sense of humour, travelling triumphantly to the sound of muted military snares, personally it serves as a reminder that 2020, and 2021, have indeed been a fucking “hard drive” – for everyone. A reminder that when I’m feeling it, feeling like I’m losing it, that the person next to me, and the person next to them, is feeling it too. All dancing to their own private “music”.* A reminder that everybody’s got shit on. All starved of physical contact, and pressured to appear positive and strong. Almost out of gas, and forced to keep going regardless. When it might only take a touch, a tap on the shoulder, a moment of kindness, tenderness, for someone to spot the cracks, take the trouble to care, for the illusion, the “tough guy / gal” facade to shatter, come crashing down. Every time that I’ve played it – and I’ve played it and played it – found comfort in its thoughtful therapy – without fail I`ve cried every time I’m asked to count, “1…2…3”. **
Originally released mid-February, Cassandra Jenkins` An Overview On Phenomenal Nature is coming up for its 5th or 6th vinyl pressing – due in December – care of Brooklyn`s Ba Da Bing! A huge thank you to Soft Rocks` Chris Galloway for the heads-up.
*As Rumi says, cut them some slack, `cos you’ve no idea of the “music” that they’re moving to.
**In much the same way as the “It`s not your fault” scene in Good Will Hunting makes everyone cry.