Evening Hymns – Spectral Dusk

Band: Evening Hymns
Album: Spectral Dusk

Written by: Chiara DiAngelo

I had the unique opportunity to listen to Spectral Dusk for the first time at a listening picnic hosted by the good folks at Webster Media Consulting. While the event was originally set to be held in Trinity Bellwoods, the drizzly weather interfered, thus relocating it to the courtyard, and then to the party room, of a nearby apartment building. Sitting outside surrounded by greenery – and the cat looking down from his balcony perch – I put on my headphones, turned off my phone, and allowed the album to pull me in. Spectral Dusk is one that lets your mind wander but also causes you to become hyper aware of your surroundings. The buzzing of the bees, the flock of birds the cat so longingly gazed at, even the changes in the wind became that much more noticeable. The intermittent sounds of the nearby streetcar and life outside of this sanctuary faded away as the music swelled. It wasn’t until the rain started to come down and we moved indoors that I realized how much time had passed. Since that evening, each time I put on Spectral Dusk, regardless of where I am, life seems to slow down as I am taken back to that place, and the state of mind of that first listen.

Written by principal songwriter Jonas Bonnetta and recorded in a log cabin in Northern Ontario following the loss of his father three years ago, the album features members of The Wooden Sky, City and Colour and Timber Timbre. With delicate and lush instrumental intricacies, even at its most melancholy, there is a strength and a distinct lack of anger in the lyrics. The therapy for Bonnetta is in the music itself, and the album honours his father’s life as much as it allows him to deal with the loss. It is a dizzying, almost out of body experience that results in listening to it, one of the most deeply personal and tragically heartfelt records you will hear.

The album opens with the sounds of the outdoors on “Intro” that is a prelude into the drumming on “Arrows.” A song of anguish and sorrow, Bonnetta eloquently reveals the theme of the record through profound lyrics such as “teach me all the words that I can say to bring you back,” “show me signs to let me know that I will be okay,” and finally, “I shout these songs to let you go.” He then takes the listener along on his journey. “You and Jake,” laden with memories of his father and brother transitions into the anthemic “Cabin in the Burn” and the solace-seeking “Asleep in the Pews,” that features almost joyful horns against the sorrow-ridden lyrics. “Irving Lake Access Road” is an epic instrumental interlude that wordlessly lays out multiple emotions during its almost 10-minute duration.

As the album nears its end, “Song To Sleep To” is a spellbinding piano-based lullaby. Bonnetta’s urging for his ailing father to “go and be so strong in dreams” brought real tears to my eyes. Any person who has had to powerlessly sit by and watch as someone they love fades away can’t help but be moved. The album closes with the raw, soul-wrenching and soul-bearing title track “Spectral Dusk.” It depicts the empty aftermath, when you stop trying to be strong for someone else and admit defeat: “Please come back to me, I need you if I’m to be a man / I’m not doing that well, that is just what I tell my friends.” While Bonnetta is still searching for answers at the end of the album – because you never really do heal after the loss of a family member – the album comes full circle, with the last two and a half minutes making a gentle retreat back into the distant sounds of nature.

Spectral Dusk is set for release on August 21. Do yourself a favour and give this wonderfully crafted album the attention it deserves. For your first listen, clear your schedule for its 57 minute duration, turn your phone off, and just listen. Absorb it. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll be seeing the band at the Theatre Centre (1087 Queen St W, Toronto) as part of Summerworks this Friday, August 17. Event details can be found here.


Categories: Recorded


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