Not long ago, I had the pleasure of talking with Josh Jackson (aka Fiery Crash). Today, I review his latest album, In Clover, which was produced and distributed thanks to a successful Kickstarter project and the Nehemiah Foundation for Cultural Renewal. In short, this album is by far the best work yet put out by Josh and NFfCR.
In Clover finds Josh expanding his musical and vocal horizons. The vocals are more powerful overall, though at times they may seem strained. Musically, the album has more polish than previous releases. This sheen, however, doesn’t compromise the rawness and intimacy of the lyrics and music. The atmosphere feels richer, and the sound textures are very well-balanced.
Unlike his past two albums, Summerooms and Practice Shots, In Clover has some harsher qualities like an earlier album Carbondale. However, unlike its stylistic predecessor, these elements do not overpower the listener when they appear. Instead they serve as a nice break from the oftentimes inherent monotony of slowcore. In Clover refuses to be monotonous, though. Even in its softer moments, it maintains forward momentum.
Some highlights of the album are “The Divorce,” “If You Were Mine,” “Put Down,” and “Annie.” “The Divorce” implements shoegaze techniques, which give the album an early, strong push forward. Though it seems a bit beyond Josh’s range, the song shows that he can indeed deliver powerful vocals outside his usual crooning.
When I heard the opening beat to “If You Were Mine,” I was at first disappointed at the return of the synthetic drums. But after the song progressed, I appreciated their lo-fi charm, which didn’t eclipse the rest of the song’s brilliance. In fact, the drum machines help complement the synthesizer undercurrent in the pre-chorus and bridge.
“Put Down” is perhaps the album’s highest point lyrically. The chorus reinforces the idea that quiet and solitary reflection is acceptable and even beneficial. In addition, Joshua also does some such reflecting himself, without wallowing or moping. It’s a nice breath of musical honesty that doesn’t leave one feeling discouraged.
My favorite song on the album would have to be “Annie.” I especially like the strings and subtle harmonizing vocals. The layers of sound are markedly unified, and the lyrics tell of longing and loving without reciprocation. The song conveys feelings of yearning and earnest, but the optimism is correctly weighed with realism. Oh, and the drum tone is indeed nice.
Regarding the production of this album, it shows a higher degree of excellence from the Nehemiah Foundation. Some of their earlier productions are obviously produced by the same group of people. In Clover, however, carries the mark of a unique creator; it still sounds like Fiery Crash.
It’s really cool to see artists develop over time, but it’s even more exciting to see them leap and bound ahead. And that’s what this album represents for Fiery Crash and NFfCR. While it may not be a “perfect album experience,” it is very close. In Clover is accessible yet challenging, high fidelity yet intimate, honest yet hopeful. I highly recommend that you pick up this album and some of Josh Jackson’s other work (specifically, I promote Practice Shots and Summerooms).
Check out Fiery Crash at the following links.