Jon Durnell / Chaos and Clarity
May 12, 2016
Don’t be too concerned by the title of Jon Durnell’s new album. Although the album’s songs offer plenty of clarity, there’s very little chaos to be found anywhere among the 10 tracks. Instead, Durnell writes about the clarity that comes after chaos, and by the time he gets around to singing about the hard times, he seems certain that better times are just around the corner – if they aren’t, indeed, here already. The album’s opening cut, “Good Thing,” exemplifies Durnell’s look-on-the-bright-side aesthetic; in it, he sings of disruptive change on the horizon but can’t help expecting that the change is going to bring a better day. The same goes for “Hoppin’ a Train” in which geographical change is the impetus for positive life changes.
When Durnell writes about the challenges of relationships, he does so from an optimistic perspective. In “All the Things I Lack” he celebrates the complementary nature of his and his partner’s relationship, and in “The Way That I See You” he tries to inspire confidence in her with his unflagging support. Even the bittersweet reminiscence of “Remember When” comes at loss with the expectation that it’s all part of the plan, and that things will get better.
True chaos is not in Durnell’s musical vocabulary, whether in his lyrics or the smooth, saxophone-embellished flow of his music. When he calls for revolution in “Wake Up,” he’s not talking about anarchic revolt. His revolutionary message is one of positive thinking and hope, and he delivers it gently.