Specklers: Animal Monk (2019)

Egret in Swamp painting by Joeann Harrington is cover for Specklers: Animal Monk album
Specklers: Animal Monk cover by Joeann Harrington (Egret in Swamp)
  • Title: Animal Monk
  • Artist: Specklers
  • Release Date: 2019
  • Genres: Americana/Folk
  • Record Label: Ravis Records
  • Track List:
    1. Intangible
    2. Sweet Gardenia
    3. Cerebellum
    4. Up is Up
    5. City of Love
    6. Landfills
    7. Merci bon Dieu (Landfills Acoustic)

“Animal Monk” is the follow-up to Specklers’ previous album “In the Clover.” This album leans heavily into Americana and folk influences, featuring predominantly acoustic instruments. It draws from South Louisiana musical styles and focuses on themes of environmental consciousness, existential contemplation, and social criticism.

The album is rich in melody, harmony, and rhythm, with a heavy reliance on acoustic instruments such as grand piano, acoustic guitar, and harmonica. The rhythms are evocative of South Louisiana’s musical traditions, providing a unique backdrop for the album’s introspective and socially aware lyrics.

“Animal Monk” tackles profound themes, including the environment, existential musings, and social issues. The lyrics are intelligent and thought-provoking, encouraging listeners to reflect on the world around them. The standout track “Sweet Gardenia,” revisited from “In the Clover,” benefits from full instrumentation, adding depth to its already poignant message. “Landfills,” performed solo by Jason Harrington on acoustic guitar, is a powerful narrative from the perspective of an egret, highlighting environmental degradation.

The album maintains a strong sense of unity through its consistent use of acoustic instrumentation and cohesive lyrical themes. Harrington’s songwriting is the glue that holds the album together, creating a seamless listening experience from start to finish.

Jason Harrington’s vocals are direct and emotive, perfectly complementing the acoustic instrumentation. The performances are masterful, showcasing the band’s musical prowess and ability to convey deep emotion through their instruments.

“Animal Monk” is a contemplative and cerebral album. It encourages listeners to engage with its themes on a deeper level, evoking a range of emotions from introspection to concern for societal and environmental issues.

Compared to “In the Clover,” “Animal Monk” marks a shift towards a more melodic and folk-oriented sound, moving away from the rock elements of its predecessor. This evolution showcases Harrington’s versatility as a songwriter and the band’s ability to adapt and grow.

The album was recorded using all analog equipment, emphasizing the natural qualities of the acoustic instruments. The production is clean and pure, allowing the music’s organic elements to shine through. This approach complements the album’s lyrical content and enhances the listening experience.

“Animal Monk” is a thoughtful and intelligent album. Its cerebral themes are handled with care and skill, making it a standout in the Americana/Folk genre. Memorable moments include the reinterpretation of “City of Love” and the emotionally charged “Landfills.”

Jason Harrington’s songwriting has been compared to John Prine, and this album solidifies that comparison. The intelligent and emotional lyrical content is reminiscent of Prine’s work, making “Animal Monk” a must-listen for fans of thoughtful folk music.

“Animal Monk” is ideal for fans of cerebral folk music that addresses societal and environmental themes. Its intelligent and emotional lyrics will resonate with listeners who appreciate music with a message.

The album was tracked by Charlie Rees in his studio in Lafayette, LA, and mixed and mastered by Lucas Broussard at Ravis Records in Kaplan, LA. This local production adds to the album’s authenticity and connection to South Louisiana’s culture and issues.

Overall, “Animal Monk” is an exemplary showcase of songwriting and musicianship, marked by a minimalist approach to production. It represents a significant transition for Specklers, moving towards a more folk-oriented sound. This album is a valuable addition to the band’s discography and is likely to leave a lasting legacy in the Americana/Folk genre.