Several things come to mind when thinking of jazz; cafés, old films, and romance, to name a few. If there is one word that is not normally associated with the genre, nor should it ever be, it’s chaos. Montreal musician Evan Shay and his band put jazz and chaos together in their latest instrumental EP, Homeward, and the result is less than pleasant.
The track “Part I – Solitude in Silence” starts off the album frustratingly. It opens up with a few sad notes, and then proceeds by going into very long pauses. The pauses can arguably add to the feeling of loneliness that the title suggests we are supposed to feel, but it does make for a mildly sluggish listen. The mixture of long periods of silence and sad notes are likely to bring tears to some of the more sensitive listeners. All in all, the song is stagnant and repetitive except for about a minute of it in the middle. At the very end of the song, the music gets disorganized, which is something that happens often in all of the songs of the album.
Much like the first track, “Part II – Shallow Waters” starts off sounding hypnotic, with a very repetitive guitar riff in the background. On a positive note, there is a very uplifting and catchy saxophone beat at the forefront of the song that makes the somnolent guitar rhythm seem worth it. Unfortunately, however, the otherwise relaxing and beautiful track is off-set by a strange drum rhythm that again abides with a theme of chaos, and is both confusing and distracting.
The strongest work of the album is the third track, “Part III – Carbon River Bridge”, which sounds as though it belongs in the film score of a good drama or new-wave spy movie. It’s calming and catchy, with the clarinet adding a nice layer, and with a slightly unsettling undertone towards the end.
Sadly, the final song on the EP sounds a lot like the first, with its mixture of kerfuffle and melancholy. Although the album is meant to give listeners the feeling of going home, it portrays a feeling of loss and loneliness instead. I recommend it for anyone who is looking for a sad album, and who likes to be challenged by the music they listen to.
Written by Franca G. Mignacca