Welcome back, Jake Hull
After too long of a silence, Jake Hull has returned with a new EP. The album’s somewhat self-effacing title, “The Fool” is also the name of the first track, a song that takes flight with giddy abandon, as if Jake has been finally set free from whatever has been keeping him out of the public eye and away from listeners’ ears this past year. After achieving appreciation and acclaim with the group Momentary Prophets and then Later Sun, Jake has returned with a solo project that was worth the wait.
I am unable to choose one favorite track from among the six delightful choices on this album, but I have managed to narrow it to what I consider the two that especially stand out: “Echoic” and “Parting Song.”
“Echoic” is poetic gem and an unabashed plea for understanding. It begins plaintively, with a gentle counterpoint of cello, guitar, hammered dulcimer and soft drumroll crescendos like distant thunder. Above this are these words: “Guide me/For I cannot see anything but stars/I stagger at the sight/A field of distant giants/Shine defiant, shine on/To break the spell of night/ ...They echo on forever.
What we don't see keeps us all/ Open-eyed, wide-eyed we gaze/ Up to what we cannot know/ What we don't see keeps us all/ Pressing our palms closed we pray/Up to what we cannot know...”
The music accelerates and builds as the lyrics confront pain, tragedy and sorrow. A descending melodic fragment that was introduced pensively by the cello earlier in the song is transformed into a diving motive that resists resolution, bursting into chordally extended diapason instead of resting on tonic. Jake’s musical construction has brilliantly underscored his climactic lyrics: “And in the years that pass as time runs on/ And leaves my body deep in the ground/ Even from far away I'll blaze with light and be/ Part of a greater/ Part of a whole/ Part of a calm I can't describe.”
“Parting Song” has an uncomplicated accompaniment supporting a story of uncommon beauty. There’s a recurring two-part refrain. The first part says:”Father, father, father/ I'm farther, farther, farther/From the future that I'm after/ The future where I'm better/ So teach me, teach me, teach me/ To make that future reach me/ To move along but not to stir/ The dust that settles in my wake.”
When father answers in the second half of the refrain, the tune is simple and comforting, like a lullaby. “He said, I"ll be there to meet you at the bend. In the road you think you travel all alone/ You're not alone/Time is not kind/ Time will never mend/ You're just choking on the pain/ You think you own.”
If you are looking for songs to refresh your soul, this album is for you.