"When You're On The Run" by Stone BearReview
The latest Stone Bear release is now out & it is called "When You're On The Run". If you read (and I hope you did) my review of Hannah Woof and Monday Nights' gigs on Leamington Bandstand on Saturday, you'll recall that I encountered David John in the audience who told me about it.
A return to a solo recording, for an artist always known for keeping it simple & effective, this is still the most extreme to date: it has the immediacy of sounding like he's simply singing the song in his kitchen to his acoustic guitar and turned the tape on as he does so. It's very difficult not to assume that it's a live take with him playing & singing: if it's not then I do apologise.
Congruent with a lot of Stone Bear themes of the past: natural settings, a certain bleakness eliding into a sense of redemption and enduring what needs to be endured, it could be a literal tale of the road with nods to the lyrical concerns of his beloved early blues such as prison, or it could refer to an emotional state of mind: so many Stone Bear songs have been slightly enigmatic metaphors.
It's almost as if he started his musical career by stripping back to the simplest he knew how to achieve and since then has been on a mission to simplify yet further. What you get is evocative of how records were originally cut and I think David sees unnecessary layers of arrangement and production as getting between the listener & the truth he's trying to convey in his song.
Like all Stone Bear songs, there is a haunting melody at its heart and even if the song resolves itself into love, the melancholic mood remains: very much one of his trademarks. I don't think that represents either pessimism on his part let alone cynicism: I think he just finds the best beauty in such moods: as existentialists do.