Every five years or so, Jim Clements emerges to drop a collection of literate, witty, surreal, gut-wrenching songs, before disappearing again into the shadows. A songwriter’s songwriter in the tradition of Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave, his songs have earned him critical acclaim and a devoted following over his fifteen-year career.
His new album, A Failure, moves away from the bittersweet country romanticism of his previous record towards a starker, more intimate, and lyrically-dense reflection on middle-age, anxiety, fatherhood, regret, and, yes, failure. In the spirit of Cave and Cohen, Clements maintains his dark humor in the face of the bleak subject matter, offering an unflinching but weirdly comforting perspective on life’s inevitable disappointments.
The opening salvo is the gut-wrenching “Not A Lot of Blood.” We follow the protagonist as he recalls leaving an ex. He doesn’t appear to have been a good partner. But he’s not content to be remembered as a bad, either. “Broke it off in a graveyard, so gracefully. A little too perfect, even for me.” He later pleads “Don’t say I’m bad. I’m not. Got blood on my hands but not a lot.” Perhaps he feels regret for how he treated her, now that there’s some distance from the relationship. We’ll likely never know. But we definitely know that we want to hear more from Jim Clements. A Failure releases the 26th of October.