Jaye Jayle: No Trail And Other Unholy Paths (Sargent House)

The Kentucky based indie outfit return with an outstanding collection of atmospheric, dark Americana

Released Jun 29th, 2018 via Sargent House / By Erick Mertz
Jaye Jayle: No Trail And Other Unholy Paths (Sargent House) Among my least favorite adjectives in the English language is the word ‘haunted’. Maybe this says more about what I read and listen to and watch, but in order for creative work to earn that description, I feel you need to hit a pretty high standard.

You don’t actually need to see Jaye Jayle perform (FYI… Jaye Jayle isn’t really a person, rather he is the musical persona of Louisville, Kentucky singer/guitarist, Evan Patterson) to know they’re glowering through each track of dank and agonizing beauty on No Trail And Unholy Paths. You can almost feel an ominous stare shoot through the speakers as Ode To Betsy opens with its vacillation between prancing and massively distorted guitars, and the prowling percussion over which the brash vocalist taunts, 'I can guarantee'. Guarantee what? The track feels like someone stalking you in the dark. Sonically, the track’s colour leans toward dystopian western and in stretches becomes almost otherworldly. On the next track, Accepting the band brings a strung out piano line in as an accent to the blasted drums and morbidly terrestrial vocals, which are absolutely teeming with menace. The ironic Cemetery Rain has a bit of Krautrock bounce to it with synth pings, and is what passes for a sonic upper on the album.

The feeling on No Trail... is laid bare in its mercurial, sonically dense atmosphere, produced by Dean Hurley who has served as David Lynch’s musical supervisor for quite some time. Just a bit of Lynch bleeds out onto this record, that’s hard to deny. Everything is dark, lit faintly by one headlight, a trail of road dirt just up ahead. Tracks like As Soon As Night and Mary Us (which he sings with spectral songstress Emma Ruth Rundle) are filled with dusty secrets and musty bones, these hushed little moments of intimacy that contrast with heavy riffs and occasional industrial accents.

Pull back the mask and clearly Patterson’s voice is the album’s heart and broken soul. He plays his voice in a distinctly playful manner. After eight tracks, it becomes an expansive instrument. A few times I wanted this aspect to come further out into the songwriting, transforming the Jayle musical persona into the Americana balladeer of old he imitates so well, but that simply was not in the cards. In places, Patterson’s performances come off like Sun Kil Moon (or even Father John Misty) artists who I’m certain would balk at their inclusion to this list. Patterson tells a wicked tale, but he is not quite a breathless storyteller, and I fail to feel his sense of humor come through.

Enjoying this record isn’t so much about immersing in how each of the songs sound. Rather, its in allowing yourself to surrender to how their cumulative affect feels. And these eight tracks feel haunted like an abandoned house at the far end of the lane. Jaye Jayle is heavy, and not just in the discordant doom metal riffs he brings to the closer, Low Again Street. What becomes clear after listening to No Trail... a few times though, is that you’ve invited the bad boy in, and odds are, he’s not going anywhere. 9/10