Jordan Reyne’s recently released Mother, the second EP in her “Maiden Mother Crone” trilogy, an examination of the role the ancient archetypes play in modern narratives of women. Unlike Crone, where the songs were held together by spare, darkly industrial vocal loops, on Mother Reyne’s bought her acoustic guitar to the fore.
But that doesn’t mean it’s an album of pretty folk-style guitar picking. Because when playing in this mode Reyne’s guitar figures are repetitive, simply altered chords that slide into each other to form a sound that is reminiscent of the drone of a bagpipe. Over this Reyne layers her Celtic-tinged vocals, full-throated, alternatively seductive or sinister, Dorian-scaled. With some basic acoustic percussion adding a counterpoint the end product is a sound that feels as ancient as the roots of the mountains, yetcontemporary and vital.
In the five songs on Mother, Reyne takes us through the journey of her character, beginning with ‘Don’t Look Down’, where the mother croons sweetly, defiantly to someone (her child, one assumes), that she’s going to save their life, because “no one can do this alone.” As more vocals are layered on in loops, the song becomes insistent, almost triumphant, a cry of certainty.
Which almost immediately crashes into reality in the second song, ‘The Ever Afters’, where the mother discovers the betrayal and pain that comes when a beloved (the father?) moves from the “happily” to the “every after.” “Then came the day you smiled to the smell of new perfume,” Reyne snarls, “don’t touch me, don’t touch me.” Her voice constricting with venom, while the guitar drones and the percussion thumps, as the Mother realises she’s surrendered her childhood hopes and dreams for the love of someone who no longer needs or wants her.
The Mother’s tale as told by Reyne is a harsh one; held up to criticism by a world that feels entitled to judge her, an object for men to observe as they make deals with the mythical ferryman to forever journey between duty and vice. Someone who feels the pain and sadness of a world into which they’ve bought new life, only to see the men who hold power do nothing but further destroy it.
The EP’s closing track, ‘Rulers of Men’, is a short, heartbreaking coda as the Mother reflects on all the promises made by men to fix the world’s problems, political and environmental. “Then they watergated wires to stop the questions and the talking,” laments Reyne, before concluding with a sorrowful lament that her boy is burning, right in front of her, the Mother. Powerless. Outraged at the deceit.
Mother is yet another powerful collection of songs from Reyne, hypnotic, enthralling, emotion-full music, and a powerful statement. Together with the Crone EP, Reyne has now put out, on a very limited budget and with little but social media for promotion, ten of the best songs she’s ever recorded in her career. And with Maiden due to also be released before the end of the year, taken together the three EPs might form together to make one could be one of my favourite “albums” of 2014. I’m looking forward to the third instalment.
Mother can be purchased, both for digital download and on CD, from Jordan Reyne’s Bandcamp page.
Beer match: Smokey, celtic-tinged, deceptively complex. Sounds to me just like the Tāne, from Herne Brewing. I recently had this off tap, and it’s great served that way as well as from the bottle I tried before its official release. Keep an eye out for it. Even better, listen to some Jordan Reyne while you drink it, the match really works!