Album Review: Jay Malinowski – Bright Lights & Bruises
On a break from Bedouin Soundclash and fresh off the demise of a seven year relationship, Jay Malinowski found himself in the studio, exorcising his demons. The result; Bright Lights and Bruises, the heartachingly beautiful album from the Bedouin front man. Soft and simple, it sounds like it was recorded live in the back of a bar full of regrets.
Heartbreak is the main theme running through the album, lyrics like, “and I know, I’m losing you” making their way into songs like ‘Remembrance Day’. In fact, this album is the soundtrack to the bittersweet end to a relationship; when you know that you’re better off apart. Especially with lyrics like “I saved you, now you save me. You needed to leave” from ‘How It Comes Is How It Goes’. He acknowledges that this album was based on certain losses in the thank you section; “Finally, to those who were written, I’m sorry how it came apart. It was a loved house of cards no one had the heart to level.”
Most of the album is arranged fairly simply, often with no more than an acoustic guitar or piano for accompaniment. A steel guitar shows up now and again to highlight the sadness. Luckily, Jay has dropped his “I’m from the island of Kingston, Ontario, mon” ruse. What’s left is a raw, imperfect voice that reflects the emotion he sings of. Sometimes his rhyme schemes and references seem a little amateur; though maybe non-Ontarians would find more poetry in the “Hammer” mention than I would. His lyrics though, are all written very purely and honestly, conveying his message without a lot of difficulty.
The best songs on the album are definitely the first track- ‘There’s a Light’ and ‘Santa Monica’. It’s no surprise that ‘Santa Monica’ is actually a re-release of a Bedouin Soundclash song. Even though Jay stripped it down and rerecorded it, it’s still the fullest and catchiest song on the album. Clearly it was written for a band as it is one of the few tracks to use drums and electric guitar. Also not surprising, ‘There’s a Light‘, which sounds like cactus-covered hills at twilight in a desert town, is the first single off the album.
‘Loving Hand’ has a bit of a country feel that sounds like a slowed down version of Elliott Brood’s ‘Write it All Down for You’. The only song that doesn’t seem to follow the break-up story is ‘Animal’. Beginning with “it was all blood and teeth, the night he was beat”, the song chronicles the struggle with homosexual identity and acceptance.
While this album doesn’t vary a lot from the same sound and theme, it performs its function very well. It’s the type of album you listen to, lying on the hood of your car on a summer’s night in the country, contemplating life and love. Now that I know that Jay can express his emotions so honestly and artistically, I hope he forgets about going back to superficial reggae-pop.
(Original publication: Bring Back the Boom Box Magazine- Mar 15 2010)
Posted on March 3, 2011, in Album Reviews and tagged Animal, Bedouin Soundclash, Bright Lights & Bruises, How It Comes is How It Goes, Jay Malinowski, Kingston Ontario, Loving Hand, Remembrance Day, Santa Monica, There's a Light. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.