I have had mixed feelings about “Because her beauty is raw and wild” as the first eponymous song seemed to be just the following of what Jonathan had done before in his recordings since “I’m confused”. But I was wrong, this new album stands on its own right and it is some masterwork.
Already the pictures on the booklet are everything but canonical beauty when we are confronted with those gloomy deserted greenish flats. I had a proper listening to the full CD and found disillusion, heart-gripping feelings and sincerity. Now I understand the choice of covering Leonard Cohen, the paths between the 2 singers are getting closer.
“No one is like Vermeer” is another of Jonathan’s rendition of a favourite painters of his, in the gallery of Pablo Picasso, Van Gogh, Dali and to some extent Cezanne in “Girlfren”. Jonathan has not the same vision as me about Vermeer, I think he has a biased impressionistic approach but who cares as this is a terrific song with a battling rolling drumming from Tom Larkins.
The drummer extraordinaire is again enhancing the following song, “Time has been going fast” (we’ve been having fun), Jonathan is calling him to solo at mid song. “Time..” sounds to me like the nostalgia for all the good old times which vanished with adult age coming.
“Es como el par” introduced as we want the moment shows once more the link between Jonathan and Spanish culture, he just loves to sing in that language and his guitar takes free moves, this the light-hearted song of the CD.
“Our drab ways” (you are the light of the world) floats on atmospheric waves delivered magically by Tom using softly mallets on gongs. I have to hear this one again as I was hypnotized by the percussions. The Tucson resident surely knows his drumming.
“The lovers are here and they’re full of sweat” (laughing, crying and so upset – I love those rhymes) sounds like a joyous entertaining song. I suspect it is not as Jonathan is insisting on the painful part of the situation, not the merry, laughing ones. Are those Modern lovers, I wonder?
“Le printemps des amoureux est venu” (Lovers springtime has come), I could not help laughing at the great rhyming verses
Les amoureux qui n’ont pas d’interest (sic)
Dans le monde du bizness.
“When we refuse to suffer”, this could be a hit. A great dynamic song with perfect mix of guitar and drums. Speaking of disillusion, the lyrics are quite explicit
When we refuse to feel
That’s when the prozac wins
“This romance will be different for me” (once I was young and nervous) introspective song, Jonathan self-pitying about his lonely heart. Great guitar play though.
“Old world” this is one of the keys to understand Jonathan’s concept in this CD. The upgrade of a song from his youth in another end of an era message, really in phase with the pics on the sleeve. Never had this old world looked gloomier and the tempo a la Sister Ray is another homage to the Velvets, even Tom is mimicking Moe Tucker's recognisable beat.
“Our party will be on the beach tonight” is nothing like “party in the woods” or “californian US parties” he did before. This is more about the hangovers and the bad feelings of the after party, how there is charcoal and ashes spread everywhere . The added piano-cello “a la Satie” melody creates a uneasy atmosphere. A very sensible song, it sounds like real life and it is not funny, the lyrics are different from what we were used to about Jonathan parties:
We will bring our own watah (and not marijuana as I was mistaken at first listening)
And the blankets are there
We won’t care
Then we have the electric mix of “When we refuse to suffer” (the prozac will win and you lose). Jonathan sings in his old Modern Lovers rougher way, I prefer the acoustic version.
“Here it is”, the Cohen cover matches the other songs, though I remember Jonathan singing this live in 2003 with a deeper concern.
“And my mother lay lying”, what can I add about this which has not been told already.. I would spoil such a delicate eulogy.
Just this, when the song was over and as it was the last on the cd, there was silence around me again, I felt that this silence was still Jonathan.