2019’s Dusk touched off a lovely run for guitarist J.R. Bohannon and after a collaboration with Ryley Walker and Ben Greenberg, the artist returns for another bout of country-soaked acoustic blues on Compulsions. Through moments of blanketed comfort and sparse, introspective saunter, Bohannon’s created an album that’s doused in a pastoral glow. Compulsions leans heavy on the fingerpicked folk, but from the tempered slides on opener “Our Only World,” to the choral keys on “Plum Village,” the record pushes beyond just a solo folk plucker. There’s a solitary sadness to the LP, steeped in a parched desperation that picks at its wounds. Or perhaps they’re the world’s wounds at this point, Bohannon’s works a reflection of the ripple of hopelessness that’s become endemic.
The passages seem to curl like smoke, reticent and slightly numbed on the air. The ache in the pit of the stomach glows to a full growl under the aura of Bohannon’s pieces and somehow we’re all the better for Compulsions’ hermetic magic. What he seems to excel at most is letting the phrases linger, rather than tying them neatly with a bow. Like nagging thoughts the songs here blossom into moments of clarity before the wind gently washes them away to pockets of more uncertain air. Loving the direction that Astral Editions has been taking of late and this is a prime example of what they’re up to.
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