By Amanda Nordqvist
In the spring of 2016, with the release of his Preface EP, Simeon Walker’s solo career began after years of studying and playing music with several different bands and artists. On November 24th this year, the UK-based musician released his much anticipated full-length album, Mono, a beautiful collection of songs that Walker wrote in the winter of 2016/2017. With artwork made by the acclaimed American artist Gregory Euclide – creator of the Thesis Project and known for the cover of Bon Iver’s self-titled second record – the album is just as stunning visually as it is musically.
The palpable intimacy the album will showcase is instantly introduced, with the creaking of Walker’s surroundings setting an immediate scene, as the introducing Turn begins playing. The track is a leading light that starts off with trembling steps, slowly reaching a path to follow. Lightness and curiosity are adamant in the track, and ultimately telling of what is to come – and if I close my eyes I find myself sitting there, looking over Walker’s shoulder as he plays; such a friendly scenery for absolute strangers. The track ends by going back to the beginning – another telling theme – and is followed by Lull, true to its name: a swaying track, embalming you in warmth with a promise to protect, eternal loyalty and unwavering adoration portrayed in the sturdy melody.
The album moves on to explore new sensations as both Drift and Hush take me to some distant place – like coming back to the dark, silent rooms of one’s childhood home, the familiar calm is tinged with something bitter-sweet. Everything moves so slowly – you don’t want to disturb the air vibrating with memories, so you stand still and let it settle all around you. Froze follows, with a carefully increasing intensity, a curious sense of holding back and then slowly letting go of the self-control; finding a steady tempo and following where it takes you; blossoming into something grand and unpredictable.
The gentle, slightly cautious build-up of the beautiful Lilt is followed by the track that I believe perfectly embodies what Mono explores throughout – Breathe begins with an overall easy bliss, melody painted by a joyous lightness that slowly wanders off into moments of sobriety and self-searching. There are sophistication and elegance in this track, this whole album really, that seems to make up the foundation for Walker’s music. We once again revisit the beginning as Letters starts off quietly, timidly growing steadier and finding its rhythm and its voice – and with the temperate Coda, which curiously begins like an ending and ends with the promise of a new beginning, the beautifully crafted Mono comes to its conclusion, as Walker perfectly wraps up every unspoken thought explored throughout the album.