In the western world, at least, the days of covid, lockdowns, enforced separation and social isolation are behind us. But as recent events in the east have shown, the situation in one part of the world is often radically different to that of another. Events there have also shown us the power of peaceful protest to change national policy. It is an idea which sits at the heart of the latest single from Clay Joule, Realm.
Clay Joule has never shied away from making music with poignant and powerful messages, and this is no exception. Whilst it is easy to see several events and actions which may have inspired the writing of the song, Realm points no fingers and looks to no specific place or politics. Instead, it talks about people’s ability to use their collective power to peacefully influence, affect and perhaps even change the will of the powers that be.
It is telling that Realm was a poem before it was a song; the boundary between lyrics and prose is often indistinguishable, and it is the message in the song, its words and sentiment, which are the backbone of the piece.
But the music astutely reflects the message too. The bagpipes which run through the song, a sound long associated with martial power, represent authority and governance. But around this solid sound, he wraps soulful and sensuous sonics, reflecting the reality that soft power and peaceful actions, as we have seen, when supported by enough people, is more than a match for the rigidity and authority of those who hold the illusion of being in charge.
And so the music makes the point just as readily as the lyrical communication. The words might do so in a more direct way, but the dynamic balance of the music does the same in a more subtle and supple fashion. The washes of strings, the delicate piano, the crashing crescendoes, the lulling lows, the skittering percussion and the restrained vocals prove more than a match for the tattooed drum beats and the skirling pipes. But of course, the message is that when both are in tandem, they complement each other just as the will of the people is necessary to smooth and temper the rigid rule of law.
As always, a great track, but more importantly, an intelligent track, a timely track and a very necessary and powerful one.