These days, it’s hard to think that many records sound purely elemental – so much of what makes a hit today is built on a sample of a sample, or lifted from a half-remembered chorus of a song of yesteryear. But, here we are with the debut from Ontario native Chris Minielly under the name Jaguar Sun. This Empty Town is a stunning work that moves gently like a breeze and really sounds like nothing else today.
The opening track “Red” starts with a few distant trumpet squalls before a loping guitar begins. The stride is accented by another lead, and then Minielly’s vocals come in, set a little back in the mix, as if he’s letting the music speak for him. The words come in heaps as the song propels forward. It’s a brilliant, ecstatic song and sets the tone of a new day rising to begin the record. As that song fades into the distance, “Keep You Warm” emerges with glistening guitars and soft bass hits. Out of nowhere comes a crisp drum beat that Jaguar Sun settles into before the wisp of his voice accents twinkling guitars. “Those Days” is a gorgeous slow-dance of acoustic and slide guitars while the album’s title track sounds like a carousel of delicately picked notes that drop like rain.
This is how it goes for most of This Empty Town. It’s truly an effortless debut, eight immaculately crafted songs that contain layer after intriguing layer, but still managing to feel weightless. Minielly’s voice is all over the record, but never once does it feel like it’s overpowering the gorgeous soundscapes he’s created. Every song opens a door that’s unexpected. It’s a record to let yourself sink into, wash over you and discover every nook and cranny. Perhaps take heed from the lyrics of the album closer, “Next Year”: “Breathe it in/feel the air”. It’s a perfect summation of how to enjoy something as engaging as this album.
- Brendan Hilliard, Obviate Media