Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun – Death

By Tom Aylott

Jim Lockey and The Solemn Sun’s second album ‘Death’ is rather remarkable. The quartet’s songs are carefully and earnestly constructed, and their independent ethos and ruggedly melodic approach fits well amongst Xtra Miles’ roster of gritty heartfelt punk rock. They have the ability to straddle genres ranging from the alt-country infused ‘A Song About Death’, reminiscent of country greats Whiskeytown, to ‘Sail Me Down The River’, a breakneck punk jaunt lasting a mere 20 seconds but seething with righteous integrity. The songs tend to be constructed around delicate acoustic guitars, which are then passionately shattered in a buzz of distortion, steel pedal twang and pounding drums, best demonstrated on the brilliant ‘Home/ Hospital’.

There’s a pioneering spirit infused in the lyrics throughout the album, and the themes of freedom, escapism and forging one’s own destiny go hand in hand in with the album’s rustic charm. While it’s certainly true that Jim Lockey and The Solemn Sun could be lumped into the “nu folk” bandwagon, it would be an insult to the sophistication of the album to do so. The songs on ‘Death’ are full to the brim with blue collar charm. Espousing its radical core, ‘Death’ is an album that will be championed by the punks as much as it will be by the likes of Cambridge Folk Festival attendees. The album’s heartfelt honesty and tuneful delivery make it set to find a loyal and fervent fan base amongst those who still seek a little honesty, sweat and grit in their music.

As ‘Death’ draws to a close, the intense energy that has run through the album like a consistent pulse does not let up. ‘Death’ ends with the introspective ‘Wolves’, comparatively quieter than the roar of ‘New Natives’ or ‘Everything and The Heart’, yet it loses none of its intensity because of it. There is really very little to fault on this album, it’s a confident, strident achievement. While no one should be talking of a follow up just yet, ‘Death’ really does set the bar very high, and a follow up to this album will be very difficult indeed. In this case, the hype surrounding Jim Lockey and The Solemn Sun is very much deserved. Four months into 2012 and Jim Lockey and The Solemn Sun have produced a definite contender for album of the year.

CLARA CULLEN

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