Music

Jerry Yester: Pass Your Light Around

The songs reflect the 1970s, the time from which they emerged. This music recalls the soft pop of that era.

When is a reissue not a reissue, or maybe the inquiry would be more accurate as when is a lost album not really lost? Jerry Yester's Pass Your Light Around begs these types of questions. Yester, a folk rocker from the 1960s who served stints with the Modern Folk Quartet and the Lovin' Spoonful and produced albums for the Association, Tim Buckley, and the Turtles, recorded these songs in various studios throughout the 1970s. Yester created the 15 tracks here using a variety of instruments and players back then (with one exception, an instrumental from 1964) but he never released, until now, in a remastered form.



Jerry Yester

Pass Your Light Around

Label: Omnivore
US Release Date: 2017-08-08
Amazon
iTunes

As one might expect from music originally made 40 years ago, the songs sound dated and reflect the period from which they emerged. That's a double-edged sword. This music resembles of soft pop of that era (think Bread, America, and Seals & Croft). It's peaceful, laid-back and mellow. It can also be meaningless and bland. The tracks on this album tend to fall into the latter category.

There are many times one just wants Yester to let loose. His vocals and instrumentals always come off as controlled. Love, the main topic of this and most popular music, should make one feel liberated. Instead, Yester tends to declare his feelings without really expressing them with passion. One doesn't have to howl, but there does need to provide an intensity of emotion to give the songs a deeper significance. Otherwise, the notion of love resembles the kind one has when referring to relatively trivial things, as in “I just love your outfit". One expects more important feelings.

The best songs here offer a blissful innocuousness. On tracks such as “My Dusty Darling", “The Sun is Like a Big Brass Band" and “Dance for Me, Anna Lee", Yester gets playful and idiosyncratic. He plays everything from a classical Harpsichord to what sounds like a toy piano to create eccentric musical accompaniments to somewhat nonsensical verses like: “I loved a girl from Phoenix / her wings were weak and bare / but when she got her feathers / she faded in the air." The ephemerality of the character is mimicked by the lyrics that dissipate into nothingness.

The music's fragility implies the sensitivity of its male performer when being soft was being cool and manly. That doesn't make him less of a sexist. For example, Yester begins the stately “Across the Persian Gulf" with the line “I wish you were a slave girl" with a vocal emphasis on the word “slave". That does not make him a pig but reflects the norms of the time when a singer could gently coo about wanting a woman whose primary reason in life would be to serve her man. And the presumption was that most women secretly just wanted a man to tend.

That was then; this is now. Releasing this music now suggests its timelessness. The disc has its share of charm and can be fun. However, it does not transcend its time. The remastering may have made the sonics sound good on today's more modern equipment, but the songs themselves recall the past. They come off as artifacts rather than seeming ageless.

6
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Books

How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.

Film

From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?

Music

The 50 Best Songs of 2007

Journey back 13 years to a stellar year for Rihanna, M.I.A., Arcade Fire, and Kanye West. From hip-hop to indie rock and everywhere in between, PopMatters picks the best 50 songs of 2007.

Music

'Modern' Is the Pinnacle of Post-Comeback Buzzcocks' Records

Presented as part of the new Buzzcocks' box-set, Sell You Everything, Modern showed a band that wasn't interested in just repeating itself or playing to nostalgia.

Music

​Nearly 50 and Nearly Unplugged: 'ChangesNowBowie' Is a Glimpse Into a Brilliant Mind

Nine tracks, recorded by the BBC in 1996 show David Bowie in a relaxed and playful mood. ChangesNowBowie is a glimpse into a brilliant mind.

Music

Reaching for the Sky: An Interview with Singer-Songwriter Bruce Sudano

How did Bruce Sudano become a superhero? PopMatters has the answer as Sudano celebrates the release of Spirals and reflects on his career from Brooklyn Dreams to Broadway.

Music

Inventions Conjure Mystery and Hope with the Intensely Creative 'Continuous Portrait'

Instrumental duo Matthew Robert Cooper (Eluvium) and Mark T. Smith (Explosions in the Sky) release their first album in five years as Inventions. Continuous Portrait is both sonically thrilling and oddly soothing.

Music

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch Are 'Live at the Village Vanguard' to Raise Money for Musicians

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch release a live recording from a 2018 show to raise money for a good cause: other jazz musicians.

Music

Lady Gaga's 'Chromatica' Hides Its True Intentions Behind Dancefloor Exuberance

Lady Gaga's Chromatica is the most lively and consistent record she's made since Born This Way, embracing everything great about her dance-pop early days and giving it a fresh twist.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Street Art As Sprayed Solidarity: Global Corona Graffiti

COVID-19-related street art functions as a vehicle for political critique and social engagement. It offers a form of global solidarity in a time of crisis.

Music

Gretchen Peters Honors Mickey Newbury With "The Sailor" and New Album (premiere + interview)

Gretchen Peters' latest album, The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury, celebrates one of American songwriting's most underappreciated artists. Hear Peters' new single "The Sailor" as she talks about her latest project.

Music

Okkyung Lee Goes From Classical to Noise on the Stellar 'Yeo-Neun'

Cellist Okkyung Lee walks a fine line between classical and noise on the splendid, minimalist excursion Yeo-Neun.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.