For me, jazz is pleasant math. A series of notes and numbers, in sequence, bouncing off one another in structured chaos. Admittedly, my knowledge of the genre is probably closer to the movie La La Land than anything, but I know what I like. And, I like Shawn Myers’ debut album The Silent Life.
An accomplished drummer by trade, Myers has taken to his first full-length album with the craft of someone most passionate and committed – as I suspect one has to be with jazz. “All vibrations and life arise from the stillness of nothing” inspired The Silent Life, and it shows in the listening for sure. Each song has its own pulsing meditative state, sometimes exciting, other times slower paced, occasionally bold in what’s left out.
The Silent Life is an album of grand ambiance and deep noise, influencing one not to nap, but to look within. To give time to breathe and let your mind wander with wonder. Songs like “Arroyo Laguna” with its electronic tweaks and pleasantly upbeat attitude made me feel peacefully surrounded by an ocean of easy sounds. Same goes for “Falling In”, which took me from morning to evening, from wakeup to nighttime, all over its duration.
Some beats feel redundant and as if retreaded from a previous song, but they’re never boring. If anything, they all build off one another to create something new each and every time. Myers and his crew have made The Silent Life a moody success for the ears, the mind, and the heart. It can’t be stated too often how detailed and layered this music truly is, each song with its own environment and story to tell.
“All vibrations and life arise from the stillness of nothing.” It almost makes The Silent Life a pretentious endeavor, but if it is, so what? Maybe it deserves to be put on a pedestal. Maybe it deserves a vinyl run. Maybe we deserve it on a platter. Maybe.
RATING: 4 / 5
The Silent Life is now available on Spotify and other streaming platforms.
Bill Arceneaux has been an independent writer and film critic in the New Orleans area since 2011, working with outlets like Film Threat, DIG Baton Rouge, Crosstown Conversations, and Occupy. He is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association and is Rotten Tomatoes approved. His latest project is an independent film-centric publication focused solely on the New Orleans area. Follow him on Twitter: @billreviews