Thomas Denver Jonsson's third LP suffers from few real problems, but they are problems nonetheless. The lyrics, though earnest and interesting, are wilfully frosted and difficult to interpret when held against the musical backgrounds. When he should be sounding triumphant with his words (over the more forward-directed musical passages) he refers to intense sorrows. This, though it could feasibly be a deliberate trick, does not completely convince. And while a lot of the musical backgrounds are utterly lovely, it's fair to say they could have been explored, complicated and transformed to something altogether more whole. 'My Wardrobe' has a delightful chorus and a sense of real freedom with melodic shapes, but it ends after only a couple of repetitions of the gorgeous material. Continue on, Thomas, be bold enough to give us more!
But those are the only problems. The most part of The Lake Acts Like An Ocean is simple, effortless and thoughtful alt-country with the occasional step into unknown territory. While those steps are excellent (listen to the shanty wash of organ on 'Saved By The Bell') and there aren't enough of them, the remaining music is enough to scintillate. The delicate accompanying arpeggios and hymn-like homophony in the strings of 'Only For Beginners' is perfectly balanced by Jonsson's quietly mesmerising vocal line. If the whole album were like this, we'd be hailing it as a worthy companion to the work of Jeremy Warmsley_ et al_, but one feels there are many more dimensions yet to be explored.
Subtlety is here used as a default, so that strays from it are maximised in potency. The breeze of 'One Of My Blessings' is so much closer to the middle of the road (and that is in no way a criticism) compared to anything we've heard before that it stands out as a freak lunge into the world of radio airplay, but a gloriously informed one. As soon as it's over, though, the haunt of pedal steel guitar (used beautifully throughout the record) on_ 'Possession' _take us squarely back to the obscure territory of before. It is sweet, sweet, unchallenging music.
But what we need Thomas Denver Jonsson to do is to challenge us. Take it as read that your audience isn't always made up of bearded introverts and take us on a trip of pop exploration. You'll thank us and we'll thank you.
7Daniel Ross's Score