Beerjacket – Silver Cords
From time to time, shifts in tone can be a little disorientating but Silver Cords is an impressive endeavour from Beerjacket, a songwriter who thinks deeper than most about his art
Silver Cords is far from the first album from alt-folk singer-songwriter Peter Kelly, but it is the first to come with a particularly intriguing twist: each song comes with an accompanying short story inspired by its lyrics. Described by Kelly as a way to give physical presence to his music at a time when music is so often consumed digitally; "to make something physical that won't be cast adrift on a shelf in favour of its digital imprint," it’s an ambitious project that complements a slow burn record which gets better as it gently unspools.
Opener Nervous uses little more than Kelly’s precisely plucked guitar to tell a restive first person narrative; it’s gentle and lilting, with a slightly unfinished air to it that gives it a simple and intimate feel. Forest is a strummed folk rock ballad reminiscent of early Frightened Rabbit, while Everybody’s Song is a reflective, and at times self-critical, musing on the songwriter’s art.
Over a simple bass drum beat, lead single Cord and its accompanying short story, Shoots of Life, focuses on that one thread in your life that holds everything together, and it’s here that Kelly’s central themes of loss and interconnectedness begin to come into focus.
Alternating between minimal folk picking and muted strums, Hopen is a perfect example of what Kelly described in a recent interview with The Sunday Post as songs "half at home in the real world and half at home in things that just make sense to me." This is a personal record, spilling out over the past three years and, even when the arrangements are simple, it’s clear they've been painstakingly sweated over, only emerging when Kelly has wrangled them into their consummate form.
There’s a touch of the emo folk of Death Cab for Cutie or Bright Eyes on tracks like Grey Areas, with Kelly singing louder and more clearly than ever before, even as the songs plumb darker territory.
Curiously, on the back half of the album, the bleaker moments like Friends and closer Tiny Graces are interspersed with some of Kelly’s most upbeat songs – like the penultimate singalong Buttons, which resurrects his vision of a wound thread as a symbol of life finding its way in difficult circumstances.
From time to time, shifts in tone can be a little disorientating but Silver Cords is an impressive endeavour from a songwriter who thinks deeper than most about his art.
Listen to: Hopen, Grey Areas