• Jonathan Widran

JIM CLEMENTS, A Failure

There’s something wistfully ironic about checking out the Indiegogo page of a deeply poetic, remarkably insightful songwriter bold enough to title his album A Failure – and see that he’s only raised only a quarter of his post-production target. Yet as you listen to his tenderly soulful vocals and beautifully rendered dark, haunting, seductive narratives, it’s the best place to gain insight into his unfortunately spotty release rate over the past 15 years since his debut – and why we almost didn’t get this compelling eight track set – which concludes with the epic, Dylanesque 12 and a half minute jailhouse reflection “Fire Engine Blues.”

By his own admission, he hasn’t made it easy for himself to make albums, what with major relocations (Toronto-London-Dubai-Los Angeles) and sense that every time, he must start his musical career over from scratch. In moments of self-doubt and major legit distractions (marriage, family, mortgage, day job, et al), Clements came across a powerful essay by novelist Christian Kiefer about his writing process. It inspired him to gather his melancholy tinged song bits – tough, worry-filled stuff about middle age, memory, life’s regrets and failure – and develop them into a potentially recordable set. He put the word out and got enthusiastic help from old bandmates from around Canada and the U.S., and some surprise contributions by musicians he met in L.A.

Despite the general somber tones and haunting, classical tinged atmospheres throughout, A Failure is an exercise in exploring life’s darkness but happily “fails” to live up to its title. And it’s not all gloomy and doomy, either. As the opening track “Saul’s Blood (A Dream)” picks up momentum, we find Clements hypnotically exulting that “the river is rising.” Sure that could mean to wash things away, but I prefer to see it as a hopeful sign. That vibe continues with the ethereal wordless vocals (some rendered in falsetto) on “Not a Lot of Blood,” where he defiantly declares amidst a sea of regret, that he’s “Got blood on my hands but not a lot.” Check out ‘A Failure’ and you just may encounter a roaring success!

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