Julian Lynch – Mare
Julian Lynch – Mare (2010)
I remember the first time I saw this album's cover art my eyes did not discern that it was a horse. It appeared to me instead as some kind of naively-rendered beach seen from a slightly elevated view, gnarled waves rolling in from the left toward rocky cliffs at right rearing up into the horizon. It wasn't until well after I'd bought the LP that, one day, something clicked and I saw the horse. The album title made a lot more sense at that point, but henceforth I was not able to "go back" to seeing the beach – it's plainly and incontrovertibly a horse.
By the time Mare's cover art revealed itself to me I'd had plenty of time to become thoroughly entranced by the music therein. The sonic palette is hazy and muted, but there's an unmistakably sentimental – even precious – treatment of its subject matter. Each song unfurls as if opening up a tiny, treasured box of a thought or memory, turning the contents over delicately in its hands before replacing it. Soft strumming of acoustic guitar and pats of drum cushion warped arpeggios and the warbling, dreamlike vocals. The album became a staple of my late night, splayed out on couch, drifting off to sleep soundtrack.
If the equine references found in the title and cover art, and a few of the song titles, can be interpreted as parts of a loose theme, it would seem to suit to the music's mood of nostalgia. Racehorses are exercised for their talent in a comparatively brief, early period of their lives – a blur of excitement in the first few years and then many more lived on (if they're lucky enough, that is, not to be euthanized or slaughtered) in a long slow anticlimax. The fleeting glories of the racehorses' youthful years are storied fondly but irretrievably passed. Nostalgia is a natural feeling, but we must be sure to put it back in its box, lid sealed – and learn to appreciate the portrait of the horse in front of us.