Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Jennifer Castle sings, "I wanna fly on the way of the crow/Above the ribbon of rivers and roads that I know…/I wanna show you the way it could go/Above the mines and the promise of copper and gold," on her song, "Way Of The Crow," and it's something of a prelude for everything that comes next. We're sent passing above horizons, colors and open ground filled with little animals that are in the process of being hunted.
The Canadian songwriter takes us above and over all of these things because it takes being lifted up and out of the murkiness of close proximity to the ground and the riff-raff to see all of the different shades appropriately. It's only then that it's possible to disassociate feelings for all of it and swallow or visually capture it all in one gigantic gulp, so that you can taste all of the flavors simultaneously, gathering the best possible picture. It's like being given your own special station up in some spectacular foothills of a majestic mountain range, where you're high enough to really see all of the little parts moving below, but still low enough to appreciate the height that still towers above you - jagged and heavily breathing.
Castle's songs are mental exercises that exist within that time period of just after the gold rush, or possibly even during it. She finds that there are all sorts of new colors that she's giving names to, hues that don't fit into language, as it currently stands. The thought of heading west, making one's way out to a rural and mostly unpopulated wildness of California must have felt exactly like that, but even so, the excursion and the destination would have still been met by apprehension, moments of pause. She sings, "Old man trouble's out looking for a table and it looks like he's coming your way/He's calling your name." He's found her. He's familiar with the territory and her.
The way she sings, Castle sounds like someone who can sense when Old Man Trouble is getting close and she leaves everything as is, whenever she feels that the time is now. Trouble sings that the cup of coffee on the kitchen table is still lukewarm when he gets there, having just missed her once again. By that time, she's long gone, cracking branches and climbing the slope to get to her next close call and all of the ribbons of light along the way.
Jennifer Castle Official Site
No Quarter Records