Jonathan Day – A Spirit Library

Album Review | NiiMiika | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

Just a glimpse at Jonathan Day’s tour schedule and we detect a well-traveled musician, with festivals, gigs and workshops from Shrewsbury to Hong Kong, Glastonbury to Bangkok, Llanfyllin to Tokyo. With such a tour planned, you would expect a performer to have something worthy to take on tour with them and in this case, we see the release of Jonathan’s third album, a conceptual piece that is at once atmospheric, ethereal in places and spiritual as the title suggests. With lyrics inspired by a deep well of literary sources, from Hermann Hesse to the Lakota visionary Black Elk, as well as a seventh century poet and the memoirs of the explorers Mallory and Irvine, the songs are richly embellished with inventive flurries courtesy of a variety of instruments from around the world, including the butterfly dulcerina, the tanpura, the suang guo and the mellotron, together with various percussion from the kitchen. Together, the instrumentation lifts each song from the page to the studio with impressive results. The opening piece, with the portentous title, “A Spirit Library – Welcome for Those Arriving, Lament for Those Lost on the Way”, is as grand an opening statement as can be expected to make an appearance on any singer songwriter’s third album release. A Spirit Library isn’t party music, nor is it something to play in the airport, rather it’s an album to listen to in the comfort of your armchair, with the coffee percolating beside you. It will help you dream.