If pictures say a thousand words, music can say a million. ‘Before You Go’ is a hazy-electro pop album that demonstrates exactly this. It was co-written and brought into the world by Lotte van den Berg (sleepyhead), and co-written by Davarious Jackson (The Feel Department).
In reviewing it, I lost count of the amount of times I listened to this album. Each time I put it on, with the intention to closely examine its musical structure and strength, as you would do for a review, I just got utterly lost in the music. Before You Go tells a seamless story, gently leading it’s listener on a vulnerable and emotional journey. That is until you (I) realise you (..I) have written no notes…
An extensive amount of listens later, I can safely say this album shows that often less is more, if expertly crafted, delicate and precise, as it is in this case. Vocal sampling is used far and few between, but when done so are effective and poignant. A prime example is found in the first track Headstones, which contains the most vocals on the album from American TV personality Fred Rogers, with his kind, neighbourhoodly persona. This said, despite the welcoming tone of song, it’s title establishes that right from the very start, this album will be bitter sweet and nuanced. You may be comforted by gentle sounds and voices, but also ultimately be reminded of their fragility.
“‘Before You Go’ describes emotions in a way words simply cannot”
Whilst the emotional state of the album evolves throughout, the theme of coming and going is persistent. Indicated not only in the way it transports its listener throughout various emotional spaces, but also in its song titles, such as Before You Go and Safe Travels. The exception to this is …And Then Nothing Came, which is also where we find the most dramatic change to a dark sombre tone from preceding track ‘Spring’ — which sounds exactly how you would expect it to.
The album is produced to perfection, expertly mixing and layering sounds in such as way as to captivate the listener for the entire body of work. Changes in tempo are only distinctly noticed exactly when sleepyhead and The Feel Department want you to. Such as the start of ‘Before You Go’, which cuts right through the middle of the album after the distinctly more violent …And Then Nothing Came to me.
‘Before You Go’ is an album to be inhaled. It describes emotions in a way words simply cannot, demonstrating the power of instrumental music. It tells a story but doesn’t necessarily dictate exactly what the story is, but rather allows the music to do the talking and allows a lot of scope for listeners personal interpretations.
The album does, however, hold a specific story. Co-writer Davarious took his own life at the end of 2018. Before You Go is the product of his and sleepyhead’s creations blended together. This album, released today on 1st March 2019, is dedicated to him, and all proceeds from the album will be donated to CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably). sleepyhead said the album is as much about loss as it is about hope and understanding, which I certainly agree with.
‘Before You Go’ for me is ultimately about vulnerability. It takes the listener into such complex and nuanced emotional spaces, and encourages the listener, just as this album does, to be introspective and let themselves be truly seen.
Available on all major platforms: https://song.link/album/i/1451335937
The Feel Department: https://www.facebook.com/TheFeelDepartment/