Cassandra Jenkins – My Light, My Destroyer

A truly beautiful record...

For those who discovered Cassandra Jenkins via her breakthrough second album, ‘An Overview on Phenomenal Nature’ – a slow-burning, lockdown comfort blanket of a record – My Light, My Destroyer’ is everything that could be hoped for in a follow-up. 

In short, it inhabits the same sonic universe and offers some familiar lyrical themes, but is sufficiently different to feel like another convincing step on the path of a significant artist building a substantial catalogue.

Like its predecessor, ‘My Light, My Destroyer’, is a short album at less than 37 minutes, but one on which nothing is superfluous and barely a note is out of place. In other hands, especially with a number of  spoken word interludes and short songs, it may seem insubstantial, but in creating an immersive whole, Jenkins never loses the listener’s attention. 

The familiar elements include the folky meditations like opener, ‘Devotion’, and ‘Delphinium Blue’ which at double speed might sound like Caroline Polacheck

Like the other tracks on the album, the lyrics straddle the very personal (“I think you’ve mistaken my desperation for devotion” is the album’s great opening line) to the detached observer of the solar system on ‘Betelgeuse’ which features a cameo from her mother.

The surprises perhaps come in the more conventional, guitar-based songs. ‘Clam’s Casino’ is where the album bursts into life and along with ‘Aurora, IL’ and ‘Petco’, the directness and prominent hooks are arresting and urgent in a 1992 college-rock manner. Think Juliana Hatfield or Liz Phair but with better songs and a nicer production. Equally catchy, but even better is the single, ‘Only One’, a timeless piece of soft rock that could have been made in any decade post-‘Rumours’ and should be (but probably isn’t) saturating radio playlists around the world. 

Put together, the disparate elements that make up ‘My Light, My Destroyer’ may betray the occasional influence, but combine to produce a singular world – one that is, at points, both deadly serious and funny, but always habitable.

Jenkins says that she “writes music for her friends” and on the evidence of her third album she will have many more of these by the end of the year.

8/10

Words: John Williamson

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