“The Crooked Road” is the first song to be released from Jordan Reyes’ latest cassette EP, Afraid of Death, which will be released August 25th. Between his recently founded American Damage label and the label he previously co-owned, Moniker Records, the Chicago resident oversees the release of a dynamic range of music, and his own solo tapes have an imposing but spare, shadowy presence. On Afraid of Death, like his previous cassette Isn’t That Fun, his lyrics are often underpinned by a lone instrument, incidental and found sounds, and a faint cold room echo.
Dedicated to a close family member who recently passed away, Afraid of Death is reflective without giving in to moroseness. “You don’t know what I’m thinking / You don’t know I’m impure / You don’t know all the dreams I had / When I’m crawling on all fours,” he sings deep and hushed against a down-stroked acoustic guitar. As he vows to absolve himself of his own sins, what sounds like either rustling fabric or a radio signal twisting into connection comes in, and a ghostly operatic voice joins him. The two continue together until Reyes drops out and the soprano specter lingers, the effect of which is that “The Crooked Road” feels almost like two aged field recordings from different places and times that somehow found each other.