Oakland area ensemble Jack ‘o the Clock is one part progressive rock, one part folk, and the remainder an amalgam of diverse and hard-to-classify elements. This, their fourth full album, is a rapid follow up to last year’s phenomenal All My Friends (AMN review here). However, Night Loops is anything but a continuation of that effort.
This album features the group’s typical lineup of vocals, hammer dulcimer, violin, bassoon, bass, drums, and various brass, wood, and string instrumentals. Lead writer and vocalist Damon Waitkus (AMN interview here) provides haunting lyrics – poetic images of mainstream Americana’s cracked fabric. But Night Loops takes the overt intensity down a notch, while maintaining the thoughtful compositions and lyrical content that the group is known for. The result falls somewhere on a modern folk spectrum, with orchestral elements in the background.
Several tracks are driven by percussion and vocals, such as Ten Fingers, How the Light is Approached, and Fixture. On the other hand, Bethlehem Watcher features a bluesy vamp, Come Back Tomorrow is mainly folk-influenced, and Salt Moon is a nice instrumental piece that could only be called progressive rock. All of these efforts are effects-laden to some extent, lending an alien but fitting feel. But the group continues to defy pigeonholing or categorization as they travel unfrequented roads.