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But I don’t recall the good Lord saying that a faithful servant never feels no pain.
—from the song “Deep Dark Valley”

Canadian Jon Bryant released his third full-length album called Twenty Something in February, and his music continues to mature in the emotional depth it travels. Using several producers, including those who have also produced popular indie groups Death Cab for Cutie and Lord Huron, Bryant delivers an album exploring the painful emotions of love lost. Even though these songs may have come from the particular experience of Jon Bryant, they are universal enough to relate to others experiencing similar pain and loss.

With haunting guitars, the album’s first single, “Light,” questions commitments in the face of those around him who are giving up. “Love and War” asks why the lover wasn’t there in time of need. “Deep Dark Valley” is a gospel tune that uses percussion to remind the listener of the chain gangs of U.S. history.

Yet hope slips in amidst others’ despair. “Wilderness” highlights the power and sacredness of love so often lost in today’s world of casual sex and hook-ups. The nostalgic romance of “Milk and Water” and the soft whispers of “Heroine” balance feelings of hopelessness.

Overall this is an excellent listen; many songs start slow and soft and build to tremendous orchestral crescendo. This album is best consumed as a whole, possibly while lying on a couch with your eyes closed and the volume turned way up.

Jon Bryant does not hide much from the listener, though it may have been tempting to withhold some of the pain he felt. I’m glad he was brave enough to be this vulnerable with his listeners, as I think this album could help those who share the experiences of questioning love, losing love, or facing uncertainty or despair, as well as those seeking light and hope. Perhaps the most hopeful song, both musically and lyrically, is the last song on the album. The love song “Trenches and Charms” leaves the listener with the feeling that, though the album was sad . . . it was good!

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