Posted by Dan French on 6th Sep 2019
For his second full-length album release, Jake Clemons presents a remarkable change from 2017’s ‘Fear & Love’. As the title indicates, this consistently rich 10-track collection is more outward-looking, commenting on the state of the world, while retaining his distinctive personal perspective.
There’s a balance between two main voices by Jake here: one, a fearless soapbox preacher with a social conscience, on the militant opener ‘Swan Song’, the feverish, powerful ‘Consumption Town’ (featuring Tom Morello on guitar) and the energetic urgency of his explosive reworking of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Democracy’, proving its message is more relevant now than ever. ‘We The People’ is his own anthemic clarion call for unity, reinforcing the democratic belief of its predecessor.
Jake’s more delicate voice and touch are demonstrated in haunting arrangements for ‘Mom Deserves Better’, with its hypnotic orchestral backing, and ‘Regression (Wasted In London)’, a poignant simple ballad highlighted by ghostly trumpet from his fellow E Street horn player Curt Ramm. His own sax is rarely to be heard, as on ‘Fear & Love’ previously: ‘Swan Song’ and the title track are two instances.
The musical diversity extends with the frantic rocker ‘¡Ayuda! (When The Sun Goes Down)’, destined to be a live favourite; and the buoyant, dance-beat based title track, Jake showing a positive and hopeful outlook. ‘Nothing Left’, a tragic lament, adds subtle lap steel guitar touches and distant strings. The final keyboards-and-vocal ‘Goodbye’ is stripped back to the minimum, giving emphasis to the lyrics and its story.
Superbly performed, produced and arranged, ‘Eyes On The Horizon’ demonstrates the welcome evolution of a sensitive, passionately caring artist. It’s immediately in my top few best albums of the year, and deserves to be in yours too.