It’s probably fair to say that we all have experienced loss of some kind in our lives, need it be that of a loved one or a much-loved item, but it’s also highly unlikely that any of us – perhaps maybe a talented few of you who have a passion for music and creativity – have put pen to paper and written down your thoughts about such loss, in order to share them with a wide, trans-Atlantic audience.
That is however, exactly what Jennifer Castle has done on her new album Angels Of Death and by doing so, has created a collection of songs that are not only deeply personal to her, but also reflective and thought-provoking to many others. Over a haunting piano base, opening number ‘Tomorrow’s Mourning’ addresses the wide-spread, global connection that is death and mourning. It’s a simplistic, almost bare track that lays the foundations for what’s to come, starting with ‘Crying Shame.’ The gospel like track gives Castle the first opportunity to showcase to listeners just how powerful her voice is, and the range of notes she hits within it are suitably impressive.
‘Texas’ meanwhile sees Jennifer Castle get really personal with her lyrics, which, over the rhythm of an acoustic guitar, tell listeners the story of how: “I go down to Texas, to kiss my grandmother goodbye,” and lays out the reality that her much-loved relative probably doesn’t and won’t remember much of her or her visit. Death affects us all in different ways, and such is a fact that Castle addresses more than once on this album, most notably via ‘Rose Waterfalls’, which hones in on how inspiration can strike at the strangest of times, and how more often than not, a muse, or source of that inspiration, is nowhere to be found when you really want or need it.
The reprises which divide the album into its two parts as tracks 5 and 10 under the name ‘We Always Change’ are nothing to write home about per se, but do their job in the sense that, under a meshing of guitars, they set out, almost like pieces of a jigsaw scattered on a floor or table, the many stages of grief – the shock, the sadness, the anger, the emptiness and, in time, the acceptance. ‘Stars of Milk’ meanwhile is a touching, beautiful country waltz style number that injects a little – and much needed – positivity and light into what is ultimately a dark album.
Clocking in at seven minutes, the final full-length track on the album, ‘Tonight Is The Evening’ may be regarded as being far too long, but those who listen to the song and make it through to the end, will be rewarded with the immersive sounds of a piece that deserves to be played loudly so that others can and do hear it. It might not suit everyone’s tastes, but purely because of how expansive and vast it is, the track is easily a stand-out.
Angels of Death as a whole is a collection of songs that encourage all those who hear them to reflect, both inwardly and outwardly, on the things and the people that matter most to them, and tugs at the heartstrings in particular of anyone who knows what it feels like to lose a part of themselves, their life, to the harsh reality that everything, and everyone, dies in the end. The songs are relatable and poignant – this is not an album to listen to if you’re having a rough day – but if you ever need a reminder about how precious life is, and how we should cherish the memories we perhaps take for granted, then this collection, in all of Jennifer Castle’s heart-breaking, personal detail, is ideal.
Angels Of Death is out now on Paradise Of Bachelors.