Single of the Week “House of Earth” by Jim Green

Jim Green

A singer songwriter in the more traditional sense of the phrase, Jim Green plays an introspective variety of acoustic folk. There is even a John Prine quote in one the songs on this EP – ‘Rocks and Leaves’ – in which Green refers to having an ‘illegal smile’. This makes it obvious that he knows the history of his genre well, which also comes out in the execution of his music. Sometimes solo acoustic folk can be a somewhat monochromatic and repetitive, but Green has been careful to keep his songs varied both in tempo and melodic style. The first track on the EP is ‘House Of Earth’ and this will shortly be accompanied by a video; it is the song I will review here. At first ‘House Of Earth’ sounds like a traditional folk melody, even if the way that it’s played seems defiantly modern.

It is deceptively simple, but by the third listen it started to more accurately resemble a descendent of The Velvet Underground’s ‘Black Angel Death Song’ – happily, however, without that band’s fondness for atonalism. Nevertheless, the lyrics are just as melancholic; ‘It seems that we’re born to win, but die in the struggle…’ has a profound air of truth about it, even it evokes utter desolation. Green also sings it at the very bottom of his range which adds to the overall feeling of dread and anger. Lyrically, ‘House Of Earth’ does seem to be quite a bleak and apocalyptic song, but the effect is not so ‘much harrowing as beautiful.

Despite the lo-fi recording, or perhaps because of it, Green’s acoustic guitar has a lovely tone – it seems to shimmer like autumnal sunshine. It reminds me of Nick Drake’s ‘Pink Moon’; like that recording, the guitar has an open tuning and is strummed in a similar fashion. Furthermore, like Drakes’s the performance is quietly intense and minimal. Sometimes one vocal and guitar is all that is needed.