Album Review: Jack Keyes – Dissolving in Dusk

Jack Keyes is an experimental folk singer songwriter who hails from Louisville, USA. He’s just released his second album, an exploration of the impermanence of natural beauty. It’s called Dissolving in Dusk. Here’s my track by track review.

By Graeme Smith

Feature photo by Destiny Robb

The album opens with Twister, a track that takes the everyday and makes it dramatic through wordplay and metaphor. Plucked acoustic and electric guitar strings mingle against an ethereal backdrop but it’s Jack’s emotive vocals that hold your ear. It’s a strong start.

Track two is I Am The Ground, a lilting acoustic song that is steeped in natural imagery. Jack’s vocals are particularly soft and sympathetic here and there is a sense of mourning that permeates through every note. Yet, it’s Jack’s poetic lyrics that linger the most.

Feather In The Wind is a delicately plucked piece of acoustic folk that builds to a soaring, airy chorus. Nowhere contrasts it with pounding percussion and a melody that radiates solidness. It’s the kind of track you find yourself involuntarily nodding along to. It’s an early highlight. The first half of the album is then rounded off by a short, intimate interlude, Dusk.

The second half of the album kicks of with its focus track Hymn to the Body. It’s a song that speaks of the struggles to find comfort in one’s own skin, and is delivered through layers of intricate guitar picking and Jack’s soothing vocals. It builds to a cathartic finish that proves to be another album highlight.

Dandelion is a track which draws deeply from traditional folk and beautifully demonstrates the themes of the album. Jack explores life and relationships through an expertly-realised extended metaphor. Gray Balloons is a sombre, raw piece, reminiscent of Nick Drake or Elliot Smith.

The Moon Is Too High is Jack at his most experimental. Touches of low-pitched electric guitar and use of a vocal sampler means his sound drifts from traditional folk and creates a wonderfully eerie atmosphere while the lyrics paint a languid picture. It’s another highlight.

The album is closed by the double track The Shell / Dusk II (Outro). There’s more experimentation here in the production, creating a wonderfully dreamy soundscape. Jack’s story reaches an uncertain but optimistic end. Sometimes that’s all we can ask for.

I’m really glad to have discovered Jack’s music. The honesty and poetry of his lyrics are a joy to absorb, while his approach to acoustic folk feels fresh and interesting. Dissolving in Dusk is a must listen for anyone of the genre. You can check out the whole album below.