Northern Ontario’s Jackson Reed Takes Us on a Dream Pop Excursion: “Dark Areas of Description”

Jackson Reed - Dark Areas of Description

On his second album titled “Dark Areas of Description,” singer/songwriter Jackson Reed gives us a short but beautiful glimpse into his world.  Here is a track-by-track summary:

“Dark Areas of Description” –This lustrous, unconventional, and beautiful acoustic guitar instrumental opens the drapes to the album. It’s quite effective in its awkward beauty as an introductory track.

“Taller Than Me” – I love the stunted beat of the introduction to this song. Afterwards, we get a taste of Reed’s easygoing and seemingly effortless vocal style but lead vocals are a little low in the mix. They’re sometimes overtaken by instruments or the sweet sounding back-up singer.

“Cathedral Grove” – Here we go – what a great, simple tune. This song furthers the mellow aesthetic, like a puddle growing in the rain. The harmonica shimmers above the acoustic melody like sunshine through a crack in the clouds. Reed’s lyrics are simple yet sincere and match the song’s dreamy perspective:  been staying in all day/looking for a little piece of shade.

“Restless Ones” – This is a bluegrass acoustic guitar instrumental riff that meanders a little and could have been cut in half but certainly is a showcase to flex his guitar muscle. Great lead into the next gem on the album…

“Love Won’t Stop A Hurricane” – Awesome. Bands like Real Estate, Luna, and Kurt Vile have made careers out of dream pop/rock tunes like this. Simple, tasteful and reserved instrumentation under wandering, contemplative, bittersweet lyrics.  Certainly, we all agree love is meaningful, wonderful, enthralling, all these things and more but… as Jackson playfully declares: Love Won’t Stop A Hurricane.

“Forgotten Ones” – a clean electric guitar blues/bluegrass style instrumental. Similar to “Restless Ones,” it’s nice but lingers for about a minute too long.

“Nasty Boy” – Lackadaisical lo-fi rock n roll in all its euphoric glory.  This tracks rocks louder than the rest of the tunes and showcases an enthusiastic guitar solo from Reed, and then… it’s over!  Too soon!!  Too soon!!

These seven songs showcase superb craftsmanship from an extremely talented musician. I think Jackson stopped short though – there’s potential in “Nasty Boy” and “Taller Than Me” to have been taken further. They have such fantastic choruses – I want to hear them again before they’re done. When compared to how fully-formed “Love Won’t Stop A Hurricane” is, these songs seem finished too soon.  Other than my comment about vocal volume on Taller Than Me, production is perfectly suited to Jackson’s style.  The guitars shine and sparkle in these songs, cymbal crashes are effusive.

While aesthetically similar to Jackson’s 2016 release “The November Gales EP, “Jackson and compadre Jonas Bonnetta have both effectively expanded and improved their collective palate. On June 29th Jackson shared a sparse, weary cover of Graham Nash’s “Military Madness” on his Bandcamp page.  Hopefully this means he’s in a productive mood and won’t keep the world waiting too long for more original tunes.

Preview and buy “Dark Areas of Description” on Bandcamp.

A bit of a Renaissance man, Steve Murphy is a singer-songwriter, author, and journalist based out of London, Ontario. An avid vinyl collector and audiophile, his personal collection of albums is wide ranging and in the thousands, including four released from his band Westminster Park.

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