The universe is a funny thing. Earlier today I remarked that my Music Monday post streak might end. There were some decent releases last Friday, but nothing that really spoke to me. Out of nowhere, enter Jack River.
Jack River: Sugar Mountain
Australia’s Holly Rankin, performing under the moniker Jack River, released her debut Sugar Mountain. If you recognize that title, that’s because it’s Neil Young’s ode to youth. Consider this her homage to innocence lost. This album is like an engagement ring. It’s golden. It’s shiny. In the light it sparkles. In the dark it cuts. There’s a lightness to it like the threat of losing it if you move too fast. There’s also a heaviness to it like the realization of just what the engagement ring means.
Others might praise tracks like Fool’s Gold, Ballroom, Limo Song, or Fault Line, but those are, well, fool’s gold. Don’t get wrong, they’re very good tracks. There are plenty of indie pop-hooks to make you smile or move your head. The real gems on the album, however, are Her Smile, Confess, Mars, and Saturn. The last two tracks I mention feature her brother, Reuben Rankin. They are brief piano tracks full of 78-RPM pop and hiss where her brother simply talks music and his technique. Her Smile is a touching conversation with Shannon, the sister she lost when she was 14 years old. Here’s what she says about Confess from her interview on Pilerats:
This was the last song to be written on the album. I wrote the chorus one night when I felt this huge and immediate realisation that I did in fact need somebody/others/love. Until this moment I had honestly felt like I was always going to have to face the world alone, and be strong in myself and by myself. This album is a lot about being strong on your own so for a second I doubted adding it – but now it feels like a beautiful way to finish the Sugar Mountain journey (in a songwriting sense).
For you Spotifyers: