Jesse Cale has succeeded in creating a movement out of one of life’s greatest therapeutic offerings; listening to tunes late at night.
Cale has released album’s worth of sonic journeys meant to be therapy for whoever needs it. I have to admit I was a bit taken aback by the way the record started; a voice, presumably Cale’s, is sobbing—a sobering entry point into 14 track, that perhaps makes their impact that much more meaningful. The contrast of beauty and raw emotion makes the beauty stand out that much more.
The music definitely has a bit of a magical vibe to it that eschews what I usually think of as late night music. I tend to ascribe late night music to artists like The War On Drugs, Death Cab For Cutie, and the occasional left turn into synthwave. Late Night Feeler is for fans of Copeland, Sleeping at Last, and Sigur Ros. The compositions are grand and transcendent. They rise and fall like emotional waves. They sometimes come to a climax; one very notable example of this takes place in the single “Hope Is Free,” the music video can be viewed below.
The album takes place over a loose narrative, which I think shouldn’t be spoiled ahead of time. Poets from the Secret Midnight Press family make appearances here and there with their musings. Not all of the narration is in English; a deliberate and welcomed decision that results in meditation on the feeling of what the person is saying, even if you can’t understand the words themselves.
“Poignant” is a word that keeps springing to mind. Cale’s arrangements have a way of tugging at the heartstrings and being malleable to both happy and sad emotions. The piano melodies of “Hazel” feel like a love song but would easily serve to draw out the emotion of someone feeling sad too. For for the most part, however, the piano has a light and airy feel, often complemented by stringed instruments. For an album with so much emphasis on hope in the darkness, this is so appropriate. I hope that Cale’s connections in the TV and film industry come through here—there’s a treasure trove of placement opportunities available here.
The vocals that come back in from time to time have that Imogen Heap vocoder effect, but it is used sparingly and effectively, such that they are just another piece of the puzzle and not the sole focus of a song. This isn’t to say that lines don’t hit the spot from time to time. In particular, I’m struck by Cale’s exhortation to “Wake up! You’ve been living in a dream” which feels less like someone trying to actually wake you up and more like nighttime cloud cover parting to let the moonlight poke through. “I can’t escape myself!” is communicated strangely happily in “I Can’t Escape the Dark,” which is oddly appropriate. We should celebrate that we can’t escape ourselves, which includes all the good qualities and talents we’ve been blessed with. Therefore, let us celebrate who we are just as fervently as we might want to get away from the dark parts of ourselves!
As someone who was sad when the post rock project Anderson Cale came to an end, I’m happy to see the Cale half of that band reemerge so prominently. I’ll probably use this album to fall asleep at some point.