Photo: Patrick McCormack
The world only seems to move faster and faster. We're skilled in utilizing multiple screens at once, driving cars and watching movies on planes, communicating with someone thousands of miles away in just seconds. Singer-songwriter Henry Jamison, instead, strives for a simple connection with nature. In fact, his debut album, The Wilds, was recorded in a cottage on top of a mountain in Vermont, and we have your first listen today.
Returning to his mountainside house in Vermont allowed Jamison to leave the urban craze to make the LP. The solitude of such an environment reflects in his incredibly introspective lyrics and mellow sound. Jamison revealed,
“[The album is inspired by] My girlfriend and Vermont, it’s fair to assume, but I can’t necessarily get too far in explaining it, since the songs are actually my best attempt at understanding. I like to stay a little bit unconscious of my motivations so that things can stay intuitive, coming from unknown depths. My inclination is to analyze, but that can neuter creativity.”
His music is thus a process of understanding and reconciling rather than conveying. The Wilds aims to helps us accept ourselves and each other as imperfect. The album wrestles with many contrasting ideas about modern life - love and pain, nature and fabrication, internal and external. The songs are unmatched in their depth and the themes they explore. Jamison's masterful lyrics are incredibly poetic and really serve provoke thought:
“They’re love songs, or about relationships, but mostly as vehicles for discovering how to relate to another person, to nature and to our swerving culture. ‘Millennial transcendentalism’ is close enough on this record, but if my aims are in any philosophical tradition, I think they’re more along the lines of Romanticism - that is, glimpsing the eternal in the particular, overcoming dualism through poetry, etc. 'The Wilds' is really more about mid-20s ego and confusion and seeing through them. The songs are definitely autobiographical, but written directly after the events they describe, and they’re almost entirely true, with some little bends for reasons of making the lines scan or keeping the story simple enough for the short narrative arc.”
Photo: Patrick McCormack
The Wilds opens with "Bright & Future." The track starts with ethereal vocalizations that are almost sacred sounding, smoothly transitioning into an acoustic guitar and Jamison's soft vocals. The minimal instrumentation and his soothing voice serve as a beautiful introduction to the rest of the LP, which is reflective of the environment it was created in.
The eponymous track, "The Wilds," begins with an unsettling vibration, then progresses into minimal percussion, Jamison's vocals, and the same acoustic guitar. The song draws on the idea that we are both surrounded by nature and a product of nature. "She is in the wilds and the wilds are in her," sings Jamison, revealing that something raw and primal that resides in us and the world around us.
The majority of the album is rooted in the same folk sound. Jamison's vocals, an acoustic guitar, and drums are the most prominent instruments, but there are also atmospheric strings present (which Jamison played himself) in combination with some electronic elements. These elements are present in songs like "The Jacket," in which Jamison continues to search for authentic connection in a fabricated landscape: "What was I supposed to say to her/In the grocery aisle, in the air conditioning/What was I supposed to say her."
The Wilds picks up where Jamison's incredibly successful debut EP, The Rains, left off. The album features songs from the EP, including "Through A Glass." In "Through A Glass," the signature atmospheric strings and acoustic guitar still remain a constant. The song deals with a darker side of longing and love. "Through the glass of the bottle/All is green and bends," Jamison sings, his voice lilting and lethargic. One perhaps questions what he's drinking from that bottle, and green can be interpreted as a metaphor for jealousy. "She was my dearest friend/But she will go to heaven/So maybe I can see her then." Maybe he doesn't see her much anymore, and perhaps it's because "she had a lot of boyfriends/I count the ones I know." The song begins to pick up with the addition of drums and more powerful vocals, contributing to the angst that is present in Jamison's lyrics.
His hit track "Real Peach" is also featured on the album and is a more upbeat, nice break from all the heavy contemplation the album has us doing. "Real Peach" has a plucky banjo that makes the song a bit happier sounding, united with lines like, "My baby, she's a real peach."
Jamison's unmatched craft has been largely shaped by his parents. His father is a classical composer and his mother is an English professor who encouraged him to write. With The Wilds, Jamison firmly establishes himself as a skilled storyteller. These narratives are bolstered by the soothing sound of acoustic guitars and Jamison's voice coupled with more dissonant, electronic percussion and powerful singing. This combination of acoustic sound and well-crafted lyrics has allowed Jamison to fully develop vivid scenes and characters in his music. He says regarding the genre,
“It’s lyric driven folk-pop. The lyrics only happen because of the music, though, so it’s a complex unity. The discipline, though, was to make a 'folk-pop’ record that bled out around the edges of genre. What crosses the borders are the ideas and some of the production, but the goal was essentially to make psychologically perceptive jams.”
Jamison has some U.S. shows beginning in December. See all dates below and grab your tickets to be serenaded by the talented lyricist.
Stream The Wilds below: