I’m going to admit a secret only a few know about the innermost workings of my psyche. I’m terrified of ordering the wrong thing at a restaurant. By terrified, I mean, I have literally ruined dinners because I am so disappointed with my choice of entree, app, or beer. This phobia has led me to become predictable to a fault every time I venture into a local establishment. I will get the exact same thing 99% of the time. Frequently, my wife will ask, ‘You really don’t want to try something else?’ Which of course, I don’t. If I know something is good, I stick with it. A restaurant or brewery really has to gain my trust before I wildly venture outside my comfort zone. I must admit, once I have the trust, it is something truly liberating.
Music can have the same effect. We find our lane and tend to stick with it. Honestly, I think more of us are like this than want to admit. At what point can you keep listening to bands that want to sound like Sabbath before you prefer to just listen to Sabbath? Comfort is well…comforting, and to leave the musical nest and stretch our wings takes trust on our part and courage as a musician.
Thomas V. Jäger is a musician I tend to trust. With his solo effort A Solitary Plan hitting eardrums everywhere, I encourage you to veer with him off the beaten path. This is not Monolord, nor should it be. What Jäger provides for us here is a venture into an introspective, courageous, stripped-down, painful, yet beautifully honest landscape spanning seven tracks.
A Solitary Plan, begins and you’re immediately hit with the acoustic guitar strums that represent the backbone of the album. Ambient synth and echo-laden vocals all blend together down the winding yet, welcomingly predictable structure of the song. ‘It’s not too late, it’s on my way’ heard at the end of the verses forces us to ask, is this hopeful? Or, is it a sad narrative of missing out due to procrastination? Much like the mood presented in the track, one could look in either direction and feel as though they’ve arrived in the correct place.
Picking up from its predecessor’s end, Creature Of The Deep, dives further into the atmospheric fog the album is creating. Guitar versus lead to a change of pace at the two minute sixteen second mark, with haunting vocals progressing to a synth-heavy break before deconstructing back to the outro and harrowing main theme.
tremolo heavily guitar, over chugging acoustic chords give it the right dose of character, and ominous aura, worthy of the next theme to a Tarantino feature…
Its Alright and the tracks tremolo heavily guitar, over chugging acoustic chords give it the right dose of character, and ominous aura, worthy of the next theme to a Tarantino feature. From The Ashes continues the verse, chorus, verse, chorus styling to perfection. Featuring some of the most memorable guitar work and singable choruses Jäger produces throughout the seven tracks.
The Drone brings a distinct guitar riff from the onset that serves as the theme throughout. This styling of lead and slide guitar acting as a second voice continues into Goodbye, enveloped with some of the most heart-wrenching lyrics of the album yet. Not to be outdone The Bitter End delves further into the void of loss, and coming to terms with everything that accompanies it. As the perfect conclusion to such a personal album Jäger goes out with a bang lyrically with arguably the most complete track.
‘This album is me venting all of this emotional energy I’ve been carrying around,’ Jäger says. Not at all intended to be a ‘woe is me’ exercise, Jager rather wanted something constructive. ‘I know that music helps people,’ he says.
What good can come from stepping outside oneself? To show the courage to attempt something new; become vulnerable and revealing? In this case, those efforts have produced A Solitary Plan. Maybe we should all be so willing to veer from the norm. Just maybe we’d be the better for it. You certainly will be after listening to this release.
Scribed by: Scott Anderson