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J.S. Terry – And You Loom Over Me Like a Mountain (Review)

There’s something spiritual about J.S. Terry’s late April release, And You Loom Over Me Like A Mountain. On it, songwriter Jonah Terry, a member of Clemson’s Pablo collective, manages to create soundscapes that are at once challenging and comfortable. A record that at first feels daunting, is at the same time maternal, tenderly holding your hand through Terry’s dexterous changes in sonic textures and emotional moments.

A contemporary of some of The Pablo Generation’s most established artists, J.S. Terry has been making a name for itself in the DIY scene throughout the southeast. The band, while fronted by Jonah Terry, also boasts a rotating cast of members of upstate SC heavyweights like Daddy’s Beemer, Apricot Blush, and Wallpaper, among others.

With an apparent indifference towards the traditional in terms of songwriting and structure, Terry meanders from wistful vocal performances, to orchestral arrangements that nod to a baroque sensibility, and even to the modern and experimental with the distorted acoustic guitar in the album’s second track “The Unmistakable Sound of a Heart Beating in Love”. To write off Terry’s musical wandering as arbitrary would be to ignore passionate, technical musical performances and production that betray a bold intentionality on the part of the songwriter.

Thematically, And You Loom Over Me Like A Mountain considers love, life, isolation, and their relationship to each other. “Come on down my love / see what I’ve become / a shell of who I once was / come down from you mountain,” the album’s titular eleventh track asks, underscored by a sea of washed-out synthesizers, strings and atmospheric vocals. Terry’s thread of self-condemnatory songwriting continues throughout the record.

Over the swinging acoustic guitars and horns in  “The Moon is Out in Daylight” he sings, “I dreamt of you last night / trust me I hated it too / I just wish that I could / forget all of you.” The album does finish on with a sanguine message from Terry though. “We Run Loose Amongst The Trees, The Sun Rises” says, with an unimpeachable honesty that the album has doubtlessly earned itself in its 42 minute runtime, “I’m tired of always running / so maybe I’ll confront something / maybe I’ll confront something.”

At once conciliatory and confrontational, And You Loom Over Me Like A Mountain ushers listeners into a soundscape that rewards each brave step into its twelve tracks. Jonah Terry’s willingness to experiment sonically and his refreshing lyrical candor have earned his sophomore record a well deserved. 9/10.