Merival - Lesson - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Merival - Lesson

by Bill Golembeski Rating:9 Release Date:2019-06-21
Merival - Lesson
Merival - Lesson

Lesson is a folk album that could be the soundtrack to Henry David Thoreau’s famous comment from Walden, “Simplicity, Simplicity, Simplicity!”

“Miles” is quiet and intimate, with Anna Horvath’s simple guitar (with finger sounds sliding across the frets). It’s a nice introspective gateway to the rest of the album.  It’s Simplicity! personified.

But then that exclamation point, which excites Thoreau’s desire “to live deep,” suddenly arrives in the folky grooves. “Sinner” matches a lovely melody with drums and violin. This song sweeps with introspective and exciting passion. Yeah, the song does, indeed, “live deep.”

Now, to be fair, this record does melodically echo all the singer-songwriter stuff from my youth in the 70’s. Nothing wrong with that. But the secret then, as well as now, is the strength of the tunes. And there is a lot to hum here. “Planting a Garden” (yes, as Joni Mitchell sang, “We’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.”) sways like the trees embracing the wind. “I With Mine” floats in a haunted air with guitar, piano, and Anna’s voice, which is both deep and soft, and always very personal. The song flickers like a warm candle.

As stated, this is a boomerang toss that comes full circle back to the acoustic coffee house garden that is deserving of pin-dropping attention. Fans of Vashti Bunyan, Janis Ian, Bridget St John, Shelagh McDonald will enjoy this album.” No Brakes” is carefree and echoes the sound of (The great) Anna and Kate McGarrigle.

“Novel” is spooky, and in its own way paints a stark glance, just like the final recordings of Nick Drake. Give this tune time. It’s a late-night alone in the woods dreamy serenade. Anna’s vocals reach for the stars. And by the way, speaking of Pink Moon, this album is also short in its twenty-three-minute playing time. But I’m old school. And, in truth, the depth of this music certainly outlasts its length. It is, however, a complement to hope for a few more moments of music.

The final two songs end the album with an urgent and deep beauty. “Good Enough Again” is filled with that dramatic exclamation point and is framed with percussion and a dense violin. Then that drama echoes into the last song, “Kind of Like the Wind,” which begins with a lovely voice and guitar bit, while drums slowly roll for a moment, but then the stark beauty returns to drop a quiet pebble into the final crystal brook grooves of this record.

To quote the song, “Planting a Garden,” “Everyone knows that touching the dirt is good for your soul.” That’s the ethos of this record: It sings the praises of the common Earth, and it elevates the inner soul to contemplative stars in the night sky. And, as Henry David Thoreau wrote, “Turn the old, return to them. Things do not change; we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts.” That was hip way back then. And this record sings with the voice of Walden Pond simplicity, once again.

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