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Jeff Symonds - Every Five Minutes (Elegy pt.2)/48 Lines About 12 Men (self-released)

24 February 2024

There is so much to unpack, so much to take in and muse on about Jeff Symonds just through these two recent singles. But isn’t that how it should be? Throwaway, what-you-see-is-what-you-get music is fine, especially if you are a throwaway, what-you-see-is-what-you-get sort of person yourself. But Jeff isn’t, and neither am I. And neither should you be. Good music isn’t a matter of life and death; it’s more important than that, so it is great to come across an artist who can take you on a deep dive through layers of sonic meaning.

“Every Five Minutes (Elegy pt.2,)” (oh yes, he has a beguiling way with song titles, too), the first of this brace of recent singles under the pen, is a coiled and complex piece, well, not complex in the traditional sense but layered with various tones and multiple textures which in lesser hands would contrast and clash but here mesh together into angular and dense beauty. Basslines pound and propel, guitars groove and grind and back beats drive things relentlessly onward. But this is no monolithic slab of music (take note metalheads), and the room he leaves himself to move, to twist and turn, ebb and flow, stop and start, peak and dive within such often-brutal sonics is breathtaking.

Its travelling companion is the equally wonderfully and oddly named “48 Lines About 12 Men”. It is a tribute to Craig Finn, the voice and driving force behind The Hold Steady, at whose gig Jeff found himself when the muse descended via an unexpected encounter. And the song title explains exactly what the resulting song is about. Twelve brief insights into the lives of 12 men at the point when they are momentarily cloaked in comedy, tragedy, self-denial, or realisation. It is a lyrical smash-cut sequence of the (male) human experience in all its dark and humorous glory.

And given that The Hold Steady were the catalyst for the song, the abrasive staccato guitars, the lilting groove, eminently quotable narratives, the twinkling piano and throwaway deliveries are all laid down as a reflection of and tribute to that band’s style.

Like I hinted at on the way in, Jeff Symonds does more than write songs; he examines life’s minutae and turns the every day into the profound, the humdrum into the revelatory, and the personal into the relatable.

Why don’t more people have the same musical standards and sonic ambitions as Jeff Symonds? Imagine a world like that.