Creating emotion without lyrics is an art, and in his new album Jaguar Love Letter, Chris Goslow demonstrates just how profound an art it is. Using his piano, he develops a passionate verse between melodies that is anything but stoic, and while songs like “The Piano Electric” and “Magenta Sunset” speak to a more elegant side of songwriting, they don’t sound particularly removed from pop accessibility in this record. Goslow can take broad concepts and turn them into charged statement pieces in Jaguar Love Letter, and for what I look for in this kind of album he undeniably checks off every box inside of the tracklist’s first act.
The continuity of “Morning Will Come,” “Sparkle Magical,” “Koala Bear Shimmy,” and “Fallen Angel” is significant enough to where it tells a story across all four songs, which is quite a feat given the different stylizations Goslow is employing here. His arranging skills produce a really fluid structure from beginning to end in Jaguar Love Letter, and although you could say that he’s got no excuse for error, being that this is a completely solo effort, he doesn’t sound bogged down with a detailed framework in this tracklist. Contrarily, his relaxed attitude leads to catharsis in “King Zealot,” an easy-going emotional drive in “If I Only Knew Then What I Know Now,” and a powerful climax in the aforementioned “Fallen Angel” that in itself makes this entire LP worth listening to. There’s never a dull moment, but instead a slew of surprises born of texture as much as they are tone.
“Strange Beauty” and the title cut struck me as the most radio-ready listens and simple samplers of what this record is all about, but with regards to identity, “Magenta Sunset” is by far the most intriguing track in Jaguar Love Letter. The way the melody ascends with the pace of the keys is something out of a fable, and by the time we reach the latter portion of the song it feels like Goslow himself is getting lost in the dreaminess of the composition he’s spinning together. His focus is always a present element in this music, but he’s not entirely immune to the surreal setting he creates, which ends up feeling a lot more embracive than it does off-putting.
At times moving and never marginal – especially relative to what a lot of his contemporaries have been issuing in the underground recently – the new album from Chris Goslow is a very immersive listen that leads me to wonder what might be next for this talented composer and performer. All of the ground he covers in this record is impressive, and he covers a lot of it at no less than sixteen songs in this collection, but there’s still a hint of experimentalism at the conclusion of the LP that I want to hear him utilize even further the next time he steps into the recording studio. Jaguar Love Letter might have an eccentric title, but its content is as on-point as it comes.
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