Rich Jacques / Joy Follows Like A Shadow That Never Leaves / Album Review


The whole album is the sound of an artist exploring the space in between his own creations. It is the sound of the perfect framework being put around the mystique and beauty of the world…

Filling a space with meaningful sonics is a challenging task. Filling it with the sort of structures which allow light and atmosphere to infuse through the spaces between, which has a central stillness and which is built of glorious understatement, is real art. Thankfully, it has always been an art which Rich Jacques has excelled at. And now, after a series of tantalizing and tasteful releases to act as calling cards, he is releasing a full album of songs.

Some artists approach ambient music, for want of a better word, by putting very little musical colour on the page, by blending and blurring distant sounds into half-heard soundscapes. Rich Jacques is cleverer than that. His musical strokes are both confidently drawn and sparingly used so that the result is that he gets to the essence of his songs without ever overplaying his hand. Quite the opposite. All too often, you realize that so much of the body of his music is made up from what lies between the notes, the anticipations found as one note fades out and another approaches, the atmospheres found in the intake of breath as one lyrical lines drifts away and the next begins to form.

Listen to “Oblivion” and tell me that you are not listening to pure love, longing, life even, boiled down to its very essence. A love song sung in the last moments of life, perhaps at the end of the world itself, a last thought which instead of being filled with anger and regret is instead focused on the only thing that matters. The only thing that ever mattered. And musically speaking he gets to the heart of his subject just as deftly, just a minimalistic guitar line, behind it brief and mellow washes of electronic, all merely vehicles for the voice, and more importantly its intent.

And so it goes. “Clear Blues Skies,” similarly reflective, similarly romantic and similarly cut down to its core; “How Long” exploring a more chiming and just as charming cosmic-folk pathway and “Leave A Light” a drifting, droning, slow burning energy cocooned in shimmering acoustics dancing to a slightly melancholic piano. The title track, “Joy Follows Like A Shadow That Never Leaves” takes us out, a more beat driven piece, yet still chilled and hypnotic, languorous and fluid, the perfect summation of what has gone before.

Joy Follows… is not only an album which covers so much ground, says so much, builds such beguiling musical landscapes with only the bare essentials, essential being the key word here, it is the sound of an artist exploring the space in between his own creations. It is the sound of the perfect framework being put around the mystique and beauty of the world, of capturing the echoes and atmospherics of the universe and merely tethering them in place with the most beautiful sonic anchors. Music almost seems like too small a word for it.

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