Young Moon: Navigated Like The Swan Review

By all accounts Trevor Montgomery, aka Young Moon, had a bit of a tough time in his youth.

Still, difficult family circumstances coupled with his fair share of aimless meandering and mind-altering substances are the perfect recipe for an interesting adult.

And while it’s clear Mr Moon has endured some hardships, he’s clearly become wise because of this and, more importantly, still has hope.

Navigated Like The Swan is a sparse, spacious and ethereal journey through pain, despair and clinging on; replete with aching synths and a beautiful baritone voice, sombre and rich, all the more poignant for its too-many-cigarettes-and-too-much-booze quality.

A mournful wail of synth and a beat that thumps like the heart kicks off opener The Crystal Text. There’s a warm and comforting bass line, perhaps the sound of hope even underpinning the forlorn higher registers.

It’s the perfect taster for what follows, a melancholic journey of the lovelorn and still tender. And this is a theme that pervades throughout.

Though shaken by life’s experiences, the foundations of Young Moon are strong and still intact. Indeed, Walk In White has a sunny disposition to it, all jangly guitar and slow yet uplifting synth with depth coming from some hard-bitten vocals that echo Bruce Springsteen or Damien Jurado.

Winds Light again has that twinkling ethereal melancholy, sparse guitar and vocals sung into the night air. “Tell me the light in your eyes is not gone” Montgomery pleads. And as the soft rhythm continues, it feels like something slipping inexorably from your grasp, of coming to terms with a love that is over.

Well-trodden ground, yes, but I guess these things keep happening to people, especially Mr Montgomery.

This is as good a distraught break up song there is, and it contains no bitterness, just sombre and painful disbelief.

His lack of bitterness is telling, and features again on March and the hope that one day “the weather will break”.

Northern Earth seems largely built from thin air, all sparse guitar and singular jabbed notes. This spare, spacious quality affords time for both maker and listener alike to think and reflect.

Ages Of Youth marks a slight change in direction, a lovely whoosh and a soaring yet subtle synth is like a comforting hand on the face, warm, yet over in a moment.

And from here, everything gets a lot more hopeful.

Tracks On The Verge and Summit And Blue Air continue a notable upping of the tempo; the beats are sturdier, the synths more hopeful and the bass has a confident growl. These songs have a fresh quality and feel like Alpine relief compared with the sometimes foggy moments earlier on.

In Emma Jane, Montgomery comforts a woman with as equally lost and damaged soul, but again it is uplifting in its melancholy.

The overwhelming sense is of someone who has not quite found peace but know that’s life, and that hope is not lost.

The sparse and beautiful music of Navigated Like The Swan is pensive and heart-breaking, yet also life affirming.

The songs and voice of Young Moon display the soul of a man who’s been around this earth more than once.

Ed Spencer

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Dates ‘n stuff

August 2012