Quite some time ago now, I attempted to explain this notion I have about music being capable of performing a similar function to that which classic fairy tales once did. I’m not going to elaborate (much) on that here and now, nor point to the article in question, mostly because I didn’t even get half-way through the thought and I don’t know if/when I’ll ever finish it. Suffice to say, when I talk about music and fairy tales I’m not talking Britney and Disney, or music and stories as entertainment, per se. I’m talking about the safety, solace, or sometimes just the subtle awareness that arises, in the vicarious experience of things we’d rather not be alone in – particulary that age old, most popular subject of fairy tales, love.
From the opening notes of the piano on the first track, The Hours, there’s a clear sense of something similarly classic at work, as traditional ballads with unabashed, heartfelt emotion become something of a rarity these days.
In a relatively subversive move, however, Be Still This Gentle Morning starts at a point where most stories commonly end; namely at a turning point tinged with resolution and a seemingly open-ended asking of where do we go from here? The answer to which is usually left up to the imagination of (in this instance) the listener. But the arc of …This Gentle Morning unfolds from that question, and becomes very much a love story. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a concept album, but its theme is rather consistent and cohesive, and so in that sense linear.
As it travels through the familar trials and tribulations of romance and relationships, the journey is – as you might expect – fraught with emotion that is sometimes powerful and occasionally fragile; and though, as the album’s title suggests, it moves through these things in a relatively gentle manner, it is never weak. The album ultimately feels like a testement to the fact that even with the breakable nature of the heart, it is strengthened by emotion rather than damaged by it.
From an objective point of view, then, I’d say you can consider The Kays Lavelle as a counterpoint to artists like The Black Heart Procession. Exploring similar themes of love and all its associated highs and lows, heartbreaks and joys – it’s weaponry, armour and sanctuary. But on Be Still This Gentle Morning, these things don’t go hand in hand with despondency, sorrow or bitterness to the point of feeling defeated by emotion. The key here is ultimately hope, rather than the loss of it. Perhaps simply from the knowledge that this powerful thing that comes from our minds and hearts can not only be composed (if you will) and felt by us, but shared with others wherein it becomes an almost magic force.
I think The Kays Lavelle want you to know that even if sometimes that force between two people gets a little broken, there’s never enough reason to stop believing in the magic of it – and if that’s not one of the things fairy tales do best then maybe I’ve been reading the wrong stories, but I doubt it.
Be Still This Gentle Morning was originally released in May of last year, but is scheduled for a re-release early 2011. You can currently buy the album from mini50 Records, or purchase a digital copy via Bandcamp.