What does it sound like?:
Oh I have loved this man’s music since I first heard it in 2015 after it came recommended on a Sparklehorse fan website. Like Sparklehorse, it shared a certain “otherness”, slightly out of kilter with the rest o’ the world, slightly sad, but lost in wonder, gazing at the stars.
Luckily, we have a lesser wait for his second album than the 53 years it took him to do his first. Have had a copy of this album for the last month & I am completely head over heels in love with it. I’d say it’s a deeper, more sensual album than his first. You’ve got to live with this one a while to appreciate all its hidden depths, & give time to lose yerself in its earthy beauty. It really IS a beauty, some of it heart achingly so. A textural odyssey through Mr. Corley’s life & thoughts, with a sideways foray into more esoteric realms for added bonus. His first album was just whetting the appetite for this one. This one’s an epic. One o’ those albums where ye don’t want the track yer listening to end, but then the next ‘un is so good, ‘til ya get to the end & ye’ve got to go around for another turn.
It’s hard to pick out a few tracks to focus on as different ones grab me the more I listen, though I truly don’t hear a bad track anywhere. I was told they had a hard time wrestling this album to get it to what it is now, though it doesn’t show. It flows beautifully. It’s got that 70’s classic album feel where the music is loose & laid back even if the the playing’s tight, thanks to a great cast of, mostly Canadian musicians. Hugh Christopher Brown at the helm, & on keyboard duty, at his studio on Wolfe Island in Canada putting the added sheen on the rough nuggets that DC pulls from the ether.
One of the most powerful tracks on the album is the opener, Vision Pilgrim, channelling all sorts of mystical influences. I’m hearing Yeats, William Blake. Stream of consciousness lyrics that lift the veil into other planes of existence, perhaps relating to the visions that Corley says have happened to him since his teens. Wonderful stuff.
“Mean beings wring their hands & hang their heads in darkness
while our imagination founders on the rocks.
I think we brought this on ourselves.
Our minds have become heartless,
our hearts have become thoughtless.”
Touching piano ballad Never Say Her Name, draw’s on Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake for inspiration, sounding like a paean to a lost love. Brought a tear to my eye.
Whirl, has got to be the most direct track relating to his well documented heart problems, with the lyrics
“On & on in a world, this time I didn’t die”
“If this day leaves me alone, I swear, while I’m alive,
I’ll just whirl, & hope that the wind don’t die.
Just in case, you know who to notify.
My next of kin.”
The title track of the album, Zero Moon, is a yearning “past midnight tune,” a song of longing & reminiscences. Again, beautiful soulful lyrics
Desert Mission- A track inspired by reading Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian & listening To Bob Dylan’s Desire, as he introduced this song, when playing it live last month. It sounds like the kind o’ song ye’d want to be listening to whilst dancing on the edge of a precipice. Life affirming.
Interestingly, all the reviews I have read of this album so far, talk of how dark & introspective it is. There is that, but I also hear a lot of joy in the songs, particularly on the track Splendid Now (ditto, Take Me Down Some).
“There you are
Coming through cool fields
With a man in your arms
Oh hey, oh my my
My favourite track, Burning Chrome, not about motorbikes, as I first thought, is again inspired by a book, or rather, a short story, by William Gibson, about a guy who didn’t get the girl. I love the swathe of funky keyboards on this. It just gets engrained in yer head. I still think it’s slightly about motorbikes too.
What does it all *mean*?
I am astounded that this man is only now making music as he is so brimming with talent. Hell, if ya cut him, like a stick o’ seaside rock, it’d say musician all the way through to the core. What has he been doing with himself the last 30+ years? Well he’d just say he’s been living a life that gives him the rough material to hang his songs on. Well, bartending & roofing’s loss is music’s gain. Seems like one o’ life’s outsiders has finally found a home for himself with the folks he’s met in Wolfe Island. Long may it last. Praise be for Corley’s dogged spirit & roll on album no. 3, 4, 5, 6 +
Goes well with…
However ye want to listen to great music, early mornings, late evening, with friends, on headphones, on a long drive. Imbibing something conducive to rumination. Or maybe yer just a ponderer anyhow, as I am. I can quite happily nestle in the branches of some o’ these songs & feel quite at home.
Might suit people who like…
The Afterword. Honestly, anyone who likes warm, rootsy, heartfelt tunes’d find a lot to love here. More so, if you ever get a chance to see ’em or meet ’em. I love these guys like family. They are some of the most honest, genuine, down to earth people it has ever been my pleasure to meet.