Puma Blue 'Holy Waters' LP
Transparent blue vinyl.
Death nestles like a sweet creature at the heart of Holy Waters, the highly anticipated follow-up to 2021’s In Praise of Shadows, via Blue Flowers. It’s less a morbid study in mortality, more a chronicle of the graciousness within each repeated cycle of life, death and rebirth, arriving eventually at a gentle affirmation to himself, to the listener, at the album’s close, to keep going, “don’t let the dark take you whole”. It’s the hope-tinged bleakness that gets you.
A substantial leap in Jacob’s artistry; extraordinary multitudes of hurt and relief are journeyed in his writing, navigating the spaces between grief and elation, and the strange semblances between solitude and community. Across its eleven tracks, his voice is a gossamer fabric delighting in the brightest language as he retraces every path walked in the harshest years of his life with a startling sincerity, looking each face of grief in the bloodshot eye. For the most part, he accepts it.
Recorded with his live band over the course of two visits to Eastbourne’s Echo Zoo Studios, a joy permeates each sonic corner of Holy Waters, the studio techniques more analogue and experimental than his previous work, but sounding fuller, richer, killing what ego was left in Puma Blue and paying their band-centric debts proudly. Inspired still by luminaries from Jeff Buckley to Björk, more important to Holy Waters was Portishead’s inexplicable marriage of a live band and production, and the improvisational work of Can and Hendrix. This is an album that can be devoured late at night with headphones as much as it can be blasted on the open road.
While Holy Waters might be his darkest work to date – even when compared to the moreish sadness flooding his breakthrough EPs Swum Baby (2017) and Blood Loss (2018) – it seems to find Puma Blue in a better place than ever. It’s as if death being the centrifuge to the album has made the beautiful moments that remain all the more beautiful; after all the sorrow and pain has passed, Holy Waters basks in them.
Catalogue number: BFMLP002VX
Label: Blue Flowers Music