Corresponding to the chaos of the isolation we put ourselves through, Connor Burnett creates a fruitful fusion of styles with his new album. Midnight Jaguar, the artist makes waves with his new album Baby Blue.
Provoking the old pop sound
Starting the album with Adjacency, the Radiohead/Thom Yorke vibe is immediately heard. Using the sonic space with a conscious mind, the John Denver fingerpicking makes for a wholesome first song. The sparse percussion makes for a riveting listen, showing us the core of his musical beliefs. The story about the album is equally interesting:
I was extremely bored of what I was making after that album. I spent a year creating that world for I’m Not Good at Speaking and it was my attempt at a contemporary synth pop album. After it was out I just felt I was in a different spot mentally and I felt like I grew up a bit and wanted to spend some time becoming a better songwriter and musician.
I wanted to ditch the electronic elements and say goodbye to cranking the autotune and challenge myself to truly sing. I met James Thorrington and Liam Barr Jones who produced these songs with me and it was the first time I had more than just myself making the music so it provided a very refreshing shift. Without them the shift wouldn’t have worked.
The country influence
Swallowing the space with Country Swing, the song utilizes the many sounds of the guitar to accentuate the vocals. The verses sound like poetry, because of the space and how the chords surround it. The bassline is clearly part of the original carcass of the composition, sitting perfectly in the groove. More about these opening tracks here:
I was listening to a lot of country music or hybrids off of country like Bruce Springsteen, Pinegrove, Runner, Lucinda Williams, and Chris Stapleton. Also, I ditched the idea of trying to be different musically. I used to be like “I got to make some off the wall stuff that sounds new” but then I realized that’s not what provokes me emotionally.
Of course, I want to be creative and go left whenever I can but the goal is to be a good songwriter and I feel like now with how saturated the music scene is it’s nearly impossible to be different. I just want to be authentic to what I’m inspired by and honor it the best I can.
Reflecting your headspace in art
With Genesis like style, Freedom has a magical quality that makes it stand out as a vibe of a song. It is an interesting composition, drawn from the lines of Chris de Burgh or the 80’s pop scene. It reflects the true brackets of Midnight Jaguar, pushing it all the way to the golden years. To find his signature sound, he seems to have gone through an interesting process:
I’ve found my music is very parallel to my mental state. I feel like a lot of creative people go through that. I have manic depression so I can kind of get off track and my music can also go off track during my episodes. So I have to really work on myself and keeping myself healthy and on track. I feel like I don’t have one common sound but I have a common arch which is melancholy and ambience.
I just want to be a great story teller so if I look after myself and check myself during my manic episodes the music will always be there and it’ll evolve in a healthy manner as I do mentally.
Closing with an opener-the state of flow
The artist from the US doesn’t pursue this full time, so the effort is astonishing. His closing track Poetry is For the Long Run is an essence of that, embracing the intangible. The art is what makes a difference, and the difference is seen in the art. As long as the tides hit the shore, art will channel the things we can’t explain, but find sense in. Parts of the album was recorded in New Zealand.
His songs are a compilation of pop, but through the years. Really engraving a sound in the way the instruments are read and put across, Midnight Jaguar prances on the grave of mediocre delivery and ups the ante. Whether it is for him or others who pursue the same, is in the hands of the artist. I had to ask him how the pandemic affected his music. This is what Connor said:
Since I’m such a small artist it honestly changed nothing for me. I’m not saying that in a negative manner but I’ve never had a budget to record outside of my room and all the people I collaborate with are either across the country or in New Zealand.
None of us can afford to travel to work together so we have always made stuff via Zoom or just facetime. So luckily it didn’t affect us musically, I think we were all just kind of making it through together and comforting each other the best we could through it.
However it seems to have changed plenty from the ears of listeners. Midnight Jaguar is ready to experiment and create more, and we will be waiting. Till then listen to his mellow new album Baby Blue: