A Failure

Jim Clements

Independent release, 2018


REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


The career of Canada's Jim Clements has been a lengthy and well received one, but the elusive songwriter has largely remained hidden from the mainstream. On this fourth album, Clements dives headfirst into some serious subject matter, including growing older, anxiety, and failure, and the music follows suit with dark, weird, and seemingly tortured songwriting. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

This installment of tunes starts with the hypnotic acoustic strumming of “Saul's Blood (A Dream),” where an ominous backdrop and backing female vocals add to the haunting, yet graceful opener. “Not A Lot Of Blood” follows with calm keys that builds into a sophisticated and moving version of folk pop, and then “The Comet I Was Waiting For” takes a turn into darker waters with a heavier orchestral feel.

Clements carries a unique formula with his firm vocals and often cryptic sounds that have many layers. However, “I Am Here For You” is a tad more sparse, with largely just an acoustic guitar paired with vocals, while the strategic keys add for a dramatic effect. “The Backup Plan” then follows a similar path with brighter synth and reflective lyrics that carry a storytelling aspect that reminds us of all the things we love about The Decemberists or Elliott Smith.

The last few tracks move into calm, somber territories with the languid tone and violin heavy “Why You Scream In The Night” and the blunt “The Advice Song (Just Give Up),” which moves with warm yet eerie sounds while Clements goes through a list of things not to do in life. The album exits on the 12 minute long jailhouse ballad “Fire Engine Blues,” which begins ultra-sparse before bringing in keys and strings as it moves toward a folky, bluesy, contemplative ending.

An album that was penned during his half a decade journey back to life on North America, A Failure certainly does sound like someone in transition who is dissecting every aspect of their life. Sure, it's bleak and desolate, but it's also original, touching, and elegant.

Rating: A-

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