Album of the Week: A Song For Every Moon – Bruno Major, 2017
Another week, another album to enjoy. I like the story behind this one as much as the music itself.
As a fellow procrastinator, I can fully appreciate the concept of setting yourself deadlines to make sure you get stuff done. Most of these posts are saved as scheduled drafts – if I don’t write them they either get published blank or I have to face the shame of changing the date.
Bruno Major took things slightly further by announcing to the world that he was going to write and release a new track every month for a year. The finished article, A Song For Every Moon was released in September this year. Hit play and let’s dive in.
When John Mayer’s ‘Where The Light Is’ was album of the week I expounded my unfounded theory that you could hear the difference in an artist’s tracks when they have a deep technical understanding of musical theory. Bruno Major is exhibit B.
Having studied jazz guitar he was earning a living as a session musician at just 16. This is definitely not a jazz album, but you can feel the influence of his studies. Whether it be the odd note in the vocal melody or an unusual chord change, something makes you take notice.
You’re the reason I rest easily, It’s the love and loyalty you’ve shown
There are whispers in the vocal melody of ‘Wouldn’t Mean A Thing’ and a hint in the chords of ‘There’s Little Left’, but the most striking example is the completely unexpected picked chord at the end of the ‘Fair-Weather Friend’ chorus.
That track is also a good opportunity to talk about his voice. Apparently, Major has only recently thought of himself as a singer, which I find startling.
On more or less every track he demonstrates such supreme control and tonal accuracy I’d assumed he’d been singing for years. There’s a beautiful gentleness to his vocals and his use of falsetto adds to the emotional feel of the whole album.
He’ll sing you a sad song just like one of mine, But I know it won’t make you cry
How much is just his voice and how much the recording and production of it I don’t know, but there’s something so ‘live’ about the sound of the whole album. Close your eyes and it feels as though you could be sat in the room with him. Listen to the piano intro of ‘On Our Own’, my favourite track, and you can hear the even hear the movement of the piano pedals and hammers. It all sounds so natural.
I lost my mind to you, Somewhere down the line that you drew
My introduction to A Song For Every Moon was through ‘Just The Same’ and when you get to it I think it will be easy to see why I was so struck by it. The minimalist feel to it is a theme of the whole album. Just enough sound to make the point, and no more. The hard, deep thump of the bass drum contrasted with the sharp hand-clap perfectly frame the bluntness of the lyrics. The chorused hum adds an almost funeral march feel to the whole thing. And Check out that chord behind the lines ‘but I only have myself to blame”. A thing of beauty.
The lyrics are as poignant as the musical accompaniment and don’t need any explanation. Suffice to say if you’ve ever been in a relationship like this, you’ll know just what he’s getting at.
Sunlight dances off the leaves, Birds of red color the trees, Flowers filled with buzzin’ bees, In places we won’t walk
On the subject of relationships, ‘Places We Won’t Walk’ is a beautiful, soul-bearing lullaby that has a wonderfully sweet sadness about it. It could easily be a Randy Newman track in the vein of ‘When She Loved Me’. The sorrow of leaving a relationship seeps out in every painful phrase. The simplicity of the lyrics is matched by the nakedness of the piano and the gentle breath of a clarinet.
I tried to pray but the angels said “we’re too busy for you”
‘On Our Own’ is a stunning way to complete the project. A contemplative story of two different reactions to loss and grief. Whilst for a Major it’s a time for questioning his faith and the foundation of his beliefs, for his mother it’s a time to closer to God as a comforting influence. It’s an incredible track – vocally, lyrically, musically – and it might just leave you speechless.
If you want to read more about the meaning of each track, Major has written a really insightful song-by-song explanation for DIY Magazine here.