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Songs of Love and Loss resonates with intensity of feeling and indescribable beauty. The album begins with compelling portraits of vivid autumnal melancholy and pensive wintry stillness gradually allowing light to seep into the final two movements as spring blossoms with hope and summer is bathed in a warm glow of peaceful acceptance if not serenity. In so capably leveraging season as metaphor and translating this into music, Witzthum takes the listener on a poetic, poignant and picturesque journey that cannot be soon forgotten.
Across its four compositions, ‘Songs…’ is an album that continues to invite the listener into its own narrative. The opener, “Eyes shut, Leaves. Lift in winds across. Autumn skies”, slowly draws the listener in. Quiet at first, the music is like waking up to find yourself alone in a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean wondering how you got there. As a listener, you are both at the mercy of its ebb and flow, each wave rising – but also there is something intrinsically hypnotic about those same motions. It is mournful, cinematic, and not to mention, emotionally exhausting. If this were the score to a film, this would serve as the film’s final moments where the protagonist has lost it all and we the viewer have lost it all right along with him/her. For most artists, this opening composition would serve as an entire album’s worth of emotional ups and downs, but ‘Songs…’ is just getting started. And Witzthum can pull it off because he controls the movement of his narrative masterfully.
Sonically and poetically, the title ‘Songs of Love and Loss’ seems almost backwards: the more fitting title if one were to follow the emotional narrative of the album in the most literal trajectory would have been to call it ‘Songs of Loss and Love’. But that literal trajectory would ignore the more ambitious aspects of Witzthum’s deeper intent: to capture the cyclical nature of our emotional lives when played out against a backdrop of 4 seasons, each benchmarking the forward trajectory of our lives and the quiet evolutions that can occur from one autumn to the next. And upon repeat listens, that opening piece and Witzthum’s ability to really drag his listener become more awe-inspiring. Witzthums deeply humanistic voice recalls the ability of Krzyztof Kieslowski’s in that he is able to be both deeply personal and grandly cinematic. “Songs of Love and Loss” is a stunning listen and a great achievement for Witzthum as an artist. It should be on everyone’s “do-not-miss” list for 2018.
Some more reviews as well: