You might think that you have Clay Joule pegged, musically speaking, but you’d probably be wrong. Or at least not totally up to speed. I know I was. If you know him by his previous singles, such as Funky Sphere and Summer Breeze, upbeat and joyous slices of pop-rock, then his latest, Memories, might not quite fit into your idea of the music that he makes. But that would be to take the song at face value. It might be a slower and more seductive affair, full of reflection and a slight hint of personal nostalgia, but it is a song still built on the positive outlook that has become his work’s hallmark.
This latest release is about gratitude, written as a classic, balladic, passionate song. And there is real depth here too. On the surface, it might appear that he is mourning the loss of a relationship, of looking longingly back at a person no longer in his life. And to a degree, he is. But what makes this song come so charmingly alive is his ability to be grateful. Grateful for their time together, grateful for knowing that person, thankful that they were in his life.
It is very easy to write a song of this nature dripping with sorrow and regret; the modern musical canon is full of them. But does writing music from such an angle achieve anything in the long run? It might help you get something off your chest, but if you are going to communicate with a broader audience, as a music artist must do, there needs to be something more at work here. And indeed, there is.
What makes Memories work is the lack of sadness, bitterness, and regret. Instead, the song is cloaked in an expression of gladness. Glad that I knew you and delighted that you have found the life that truly makes you happy. Such positivity, something found throughout Clay Joule’s music, creates the longevity that songs such as this need.
Unlike those previous, upbeat tracks, which were undoubtedly my introduction to his music, Memories is made of more understated and subtle musical elements. But even though it starts in a softer and more soulful territory, as the song progresses, Clay wraps this deft musical vehicle in increasing energy and musical laters, different tones and textures, beat and extra-musical weight. And this has the effect of moving the song from its initial lulling point to a much more dynamic place of musical peaks and troughs, sonic ebbs and flows, ending somewhere on the edge of full-blown rock and roll territory.
Suppose you are used to Clay Joule fashioning songs out of upbeat pop-rock strands, laying down funky, energetic vibes, infectiousness and addictiveness. In that case, Memories might seem a bit of a departure. But the same joy and celebration are going on in this song as in his more immediate tracks. It’s just that you have to look deeper into the music to find them. Looking deeper into music is something that you should always be prepared to do. Memories shows us that he is just as adept at the subtle and the soulful, the controlled and the concise, the deft and the delicate. It reminds us of just how well-rounded an artist he truly is.