Recorded in a church near Lake Eerie, Jennifer Castle’s new album Angels of Death certainly has the feel of a twilight evening by the water, where you sit on a porch swing and just watch the darkness descend. The infinite mysteries of nature are everywhere in Castle’s music, which is inspired by folk, country, the blues – music of the dirt rich earth and yet she sounds more like she belongs in the air, whispering her sweet melodies into the wind.
Opening piano ballad ‘Tomorrow’s Mourning’ sets the quiet sunset tone, her voice quivers at times, containing the myriad of emotions she sings of in the song. Similarly Crying Shame contemplating her failures and loneliness in a haunting haze of sound.
Then we head south to Texas with a song and a kiss for her grandmother. Death lingers in her goodbye kiss, and she is reminded too of her late father. ‘I wander the garden of Eden, in search of a way to stop the bleeding’. If she cannot stop death then she will at least tie a ribbon and write a song in their memory.
The haunting country-tinged title track Angels of Death is for her ‘only friend’ the poet W.B. Yeats, who she reads during the darkest nights of her soul. She looks back at her muse, as a ‘seed imagines a flower’. Finding comfort in poetry, music, art helps us to make sense of life. Strings and pedal steel combine beautifully on ‘We Always Change pt1’, the interlude which is also a reprise of an old song. The song gets to breathe again at the end of the album too.
Castle’s lyrics are so strong and evocative – the opening line of Rose Waterfalls is a perfect example: ‘No one said that poetry was easy/ living with a song inside your heart’. This song is for her muses, which are all around her. She stitches her artistic dreams into her seams so she doesn’t forget them. Some of her inspirations on this album included Al Purdy, Joan Didion, Ana Mendieta and Susana Salinas.
The slow fade in of Grim Reaper adds to the eerie atmosphere of the song. She’s not afraid of death but it’s inescapable. Stars of Milk is an echoing country waltz, a beautiful moment of light in the album. On the slow burn six minute epic Tonight The Evening she contemplates life, singing ‘I have to keep a highway mind’. To be out on the road, heading onwards and forwards is the only way to avoid noticing the ticking of life’s clock.
Jennifer Castle takes a look at the world and never fails to see wonder in the cycle of life. Take a walk with the Angels of Death through the gloaming and it will surely comfort your weary soul.