There is a beautiful lyrical depth that reflects the musical mastery on display in this latest release from Clay Joule. Keeping On begins in the realms of late-night jazz bar ambience; a gentle wave of muted trumpets and understated piano sets the atmosphere perfectly. But the song soon evolves, developing a more funky groove, a light sonic frame subtle enough to let the vocals shine. And from there, it builds through supple and subtle moves. The drums maintain a crisp, straightforward rhythm, the bass adds emphasis, happy to underscore rather than overplay, and the piano sprinkles sonic sweetness throughout. As the song hits its stride, ebbing and flowing between wonderful delicacy and sonic highs, the brass sound lifts the music when it needs to go that extra sonic mile.
But you don’t just come to Clay Joule for incredible music, although, of course, Keep On is certainly that. But a profound and meaningful message is always found within his songs, no matter how fun and throwaway they might initially seem. “Keep On” is no exception. On the surface, a first listen reveals this to be a slow-burning but empowering and poetic anthem, a reminder that you hold the reins of your life, and your destiny is your own to shape.
However, upon closer examination, especially when you match these succinct and poignant lyrics with the visuals in the music video, a wealth of new insight emerges. Confronted with the potent lyrics, poignant imagery, and the power of music as it plays out, a more profound message becomes evident.
Many teachings, particularly those of mainstream orthodoxy, advocate that the way to understanding god comes only through them and that only by following their command will you stay on the correct path. “Keep On” challenges the fallacy of this notion, exposing its lack of true conviction and the mortal greed behind it. You don’t require a self-appointed guide to show you the way; instead, love yourself, be true to yourself, summon your courage and your path to destiny will open up before you. But more than that, it will remind you that the way has always lay open before you.
Music can serve as mere entertainment, be informative, profound, or just plain fun. A song generally opts for one or another of these functions. As is always the case, and proven repeatedly through a series of astute musical releases, Clay Joule has an uncanny ability to tick all these boxes and more besides just in one song.
Music which makes you feel and make you think. And do so long after the song has faded out. How cool is that?