©2008 Curlock and Jalaiso Music, BMI

the new year

look out ahead
we’re coming, coming fast
ready for the good old days
to start at last

kick off the party
with a laugh and a bang
leave your secrets in the closet
your failures where they hang

one more turn around the sun
quicker than the last one
one more dance to a merry tune
kiss me while the year is new

throw you cares on the bonfire
your money in the pot
resolutions? are you kidding?
how could we? we have no plot

it’s just a gift to be living
a blessing to be with you
and i hold them both like the sparrow
that ate from my hand until it flew

one more turn around the sun
quicker than the last one
one more dance to a merry tune
kiss me while the year is new

nature hates a vacuum
like my kitchen hates a broom
and your promise in the cold air
disappears too soon

so kiss me in the driveway
while the year is new
and we’ll start with a clean slate
as dawn bleeds through

face to face

i can only speculate about
why you never call here anymore
could be advice i gave came back to bite me
could be you mean to
but just never write me
i won’t ask your secrets
i won’t comment on the state of your affairs
i just miss your sense of humor
and knowing that you care

the distance between us just increases
as the years accelerate
as kids we shared a bedroom
now we live in separate states
with less to laugh about,
and more to tolerate,
i don’t judge you for your choices
i don’t claim i’ve never made mistakes
we’ve been stretched out so thin
we never will snap back into shape

right now it’s hard to speak tenderly
and it’s easy to shout
too many questions in the way
drowning you out
i want to turn this trend around
but where to begin
i need to see you face to face again

face to face
i need to see you

absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder
it just exaggerates
either the roses bloom like crazy
or the weeds proliferate
any germ of doubt
can make you start to wonder
and too much time to replay
too much time to ponder
that’s more attention
than any word or detail could deserve
sometimes hindsight isn’t 20/20
it’s just plain absurd

 

 

something out of nothing

 

where did it start:
like gods in the darkness
speaking the words that
set each other alight?
or there in the rush
from the leap to the landing
as the choices we made
turned into our life?

where in the notes
of that first early song
did the hint of the notion
start to play in your mind?
at the threshold between
at rest and in motion
i became yours
and you become mine

making something out of nothing
we are wings in the air
fighting to stay there

where in the strike
of the match on the matchbook
do the force and the friction
give way to the fire?
and the kids playing catch in the yard
wearing their dad’s face and mother’s eyes
when do they spring
from our plans to our side?

all those magicians, they
pull the dove from their sleeve
you and i pay down the mortgage
and try to believe

in something out of nothing
we are wings in the air
fighting to stay there

one kind word

one kind word shouldn’t have to last me so long
you leave me sucking on a happy memory
until the sweetness is gone
i can’t walk away
from my faith in a good thing
even if it never comes

i’ve got a farmer’s patience
i do what i can
and hope that the weather changes
but honey, my love has better uses
than to stay behind and make your excuses
when you can’t keep your promises

so many years of believing
and hoping you’ll change
if i leave you now
i throw them all away
but those years are already spent
and not carelessly, not by accident
you’re my thrill
but you keep me waiting

one kind word shouldn’t have to last me so long
you leave me sucking on a happy memory
until the sweetness is gone
i can’t walk away
from my faith in you
even if you can’t be true

a new expression

blue skies in paradise
but sometimes a rain cloud appears

she’s got a new expression

she brings it out to let me
know when i’ve done wrong
it’s hammer and nails
she paints it pretty strong

once she gets her mind made up
there’s no turning back
start rolling credits now
we’re fading to black

call up the tower with a
change of plans
she’ll circle endlessly
before she ever lets you let her land

kicks me out of eden
drops me from grace
gabriel’s flaming sword
on a 2-year-old face

she’s got a new expression

the switch is on

the switch is on but the signal’s missing
choking in the ice
funny how when the power skips a beat
i lose my place in time
service is suspended now
a little break in the routine suspending me

my hands are cold and my daughter’s sleeping
listen for the phone
funny how working is impossible
but still the reflex moans
so i find a way to fill the space
cast about for projects in the attic
higher ground to waste

we’re grateful now for any little errand
marker in the void
but you forget your wallet
and we’re driving back and forth
what’s a repetition
in the context of a loop
or a needle in a groove

time

waiting like a bully
at the edge of the beach
kicking down [blue sand] castles
ready to bury me
in the sand of history

my teenage neighbor’s punk band
has me feeling my age
we’re covering the same ground
but i could swear
i’m climbing a steeper grade

time, time, time
is definitely not on my side
we kill each other slowly
while he makes up his mind
if he’s healing my wounds
or punishing my crimes
this time

you live your whole life
in the flash of that pan
the millisecond burning
of the spark that spans
from memories to plans

catch your expression
on the face of your kids
a little glimpse of the future
that could be
through a new lens

king charlemagne prayed
for the sun to stand still
because he wanted time to kill
but i want to live
in the curve of your face
i’m taking your love with me
beyond the grave

worth in trade

you start romancing
a junkyard van
from a need to set things right
with your own hands
but you give up half way
and there it stands
rusting monument to
frustrated plans

oh, to see through
ignorant eyes
there’s not much beautiful
to the worldly-wise
it never seems to
balance out right
one day of bad decisions
ten years to analyze

you need someone to tell you
what you’re worth in trade
separate you out from
what you do for wage
someone to wake you
with a breath of air
put the life back in you
and the wind back in your hair

face right up to
the bare facts
there’s a bigger picture but you
won’t see it like that
nothing grabs you
nothing shines
no matter how you try
twice two isn’t five

first it’s this way
then it’s that
going nowhere
in a lifetime flat
so many conversations in you
i’m never quite sure
who i’m talking to

a song like yours

hey little bird
lend me your will
let me eat from your habit
and drink from your thrill

i want to want to know your secret
and i don’t
i want to want a song like yours
in my throat

laughter is plentiful
and happiness ripe on the vine
but i’m weary in body
and stagnant in mind

i want to want to see a new face
and shake a new hand
i want to want to drift on the wind
and land where i land

hey little bird
fly me out from under this night
all the things i cherish
have grown tiresome in my sight

hey little bird
teach me your desire
tell me how you get a living soul
to fly lighter and higher

i want to want the apple on your tree
but i’ve no appetite
i want to want to find myself
in the miracle of your flight

i want to want to throw back my head
and laugh at your joke
i want to want a song like yours
in my throat

spring ahead

half of the clocks were set ahead
but the rest still show yesterday’s time
we’ve grown accustomed to
dark evenings
and it’s strange to see light outside

all day long you shot me dirty looks

alone in the car
you start venting bitterness
and i’m trapped in the traffic
on a 2-hour drive
it doesn’t matter which route i take
the l.i.e. or the northern state
we’re headed for a blowout
in record time

you could call this progress
there are more good days than bad
but i’m still walking on eggshells
from the moment you get here
to the time that i take you back

once we were passengers in the same dark history
but you were at the wheel and i was stuck in back
and now it’s difficult
in the shadow of headlight and underpass
to separate present feeling from artifact

i want to believe that we’re changing
and put a good face on the setbacks
but the spring is transparent as sunshine
and the winter behind us is solid as pitch black

100,001

the odometer flips to a hundred grand
and it feels like progress
the vague taste of accomplishment
helps you to feel a little less lost

but it’s a random number
you’re treading water
it’s visually pleasing
but grossly misleading
the accumulation of mundane errands
over time

still, it scratches the itch to impose
some frame of perspective
as you try to fill your requirements
and free up some time for electives
well perspective is fine
but living is binary
you are or you aren’t in love or in misery
and hindsight never clears until the
dates on the warranties pass

maybe teenagers have the right idea
just live in the present and drink it all in
and that’s where you begin

but sooner or later there’s a compromise
a promise you make or a paper you sign
and it hits you at the strangest times
idling in the drive-through atm line
that by the time the last child
is put to bed
dishes washed and stories read
there may not be anything left in the tank
and that’s fine
you don’t mind

the odometer flips to another mile
and it feels like progress

 

 

©2008 Curlock and Jalaiso Music, BMI

 

track listing:

 

the new year
face to face
something out of nothing
one kind word
a new expression
the switch is on
time
worth in trade
a song like yours
spring ahead
100,001

 

Released 2008. Recorded at Vu Du Studios and Parcheesi Studios by Bob Stander. Artie Riegger on drums, AJ Riegger on bass, Bob Stander on lead guitar, and Jean-Paul Vest on guitar, keyboards and vocals. Guest musicians Larry Eagle on drums, and Frank Bruno, Wendy Walters, and John Brinkman on vocals. Cover illustration by Rami Efal.

 

 

 

Swift With their new album Fractures, Last Charge of the Light Horse successfully brings to the music scene what so many artists attempt. This album is full of thought-provoking lyricism and mind altering instrumentationFractures is the kind of artistic creation that exponentially delivers more and more every time you listen.
4.5 stars out of 5

 

The Daily Vault, Jason Warburg – So many terrific independent albums crossed my desk this year that it’s truly a challenge to pick one that rose above the rest. But if I have to, then it has to be Fractures. Jean-Paul Vest and his band Last Charge Of The Light Horse make what I can only describe as thinking-man’s rock and roll, lyrics that demand you invest your full attention to their nuances and poetry even as the coiled intensity of Vest’s guitar work continually ups the emotional ante. Forget about calling this a record album -- this is rich, wonderfully multilayered art.

 

Wildy's World, Wildy Haskell – Last Charge Of The Light Horse…have captured lightning in a bottle the second time around. Vest is a true wordsmith, creating aural oil paintings in music and lyric…Last Charge Of The Light Horse keeps it simple, and in simplicity finds magic and a complexity that is amazing. Fractures is a thing of beauty…a classic. Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

 

Good Times, Syl Nathan – This group’s previous album, Getaway Car (2005), received nearly unanimous praise from the regional press, and this effort manages to top the previous release…In all, those who enjoyed Getaway Car will find lots to like with Fractures, as Vest delves deeper into his refreshingly oddball songwriting sensibility.

 

Heavier Than Air Following a passionate live set at Spike Hill in Brooklyn, I was lucky enough to get my sweaty mitts on a copy of their 2008 CD FracturesA band doing it for the love of music and creating honest, impassioned rock music with real depth. Hear that you majors in your death throes? The ride's over.

 

100.9FM, The Indie Revolution, Scott Kuchler – Those of you who have been listening to the program for a while probably know that I love this band…If there’s any justice in this world, this is a band and an artist who will get signed and have great success in the world of adult alternative radio.

 

LI Pulse, Michael Isenbeck – Local Focus: The muse of Last Charge of the Light Horse’s frontman Jean-Paul Vest leads him towards examinations of relationships throughout the band’s latest album Fractures. The leadoff track The New Year dives into this theme with an offering of moody, orchestral underpinnings and keening, pained vocals. Bust just when you think you have this band pegged, they offer Time, a rollicking Americana tune. The band engages in a variety of moods and tones and successfully draws the listener into their unique world.

 

Good Times Magazine, The Best of 2008 – Here's our annual list of the best of local, indie, and national album releases of the year…
…Last Charge of the Light Horse - Fractures - The usual off-kilter, indescribable originality from Jean-Paul Vest.

 

The Daily Vault, Jason Warburg

 

Lyric sheets are a dicey business for a writer-geek like me. I’m often so hung up on the quality of lyrics that I’ve learned not to look at them before I listen to a disc, because a weak turn of phrase or clichéd idea can color my whole view of the album before I’ve heard a note of music.

 

In this case, though, I’ve been around the block with singer-songwriter-guitarist Jean-Paul Vest twice already -- once with his former group Blue Sandcastle and more recently with his newer trio Last Charge Of The Light Horse -- and both times his songs have completely captured me. Yes, the singing is strong, the playing is excellent, and the production usually strikes a nice balance between raw and sharp, but the words are what’s ended up pulling me headlong into Vest’s universe each time we’ve met.

 

And so, when the new Last Charge disc Fractures showed up in my mailbox just a few minutes ago, the first thing I did was pop it in the computer to rip it onto my iPod… and what did I do while the CD drive was busy spinning zeroes and ones but sit here and read the lyrics to an entire song.

 

Big mistake.

 

Because, you see, the song is the last one on this disc, 100,001, and the lyric is not just brilliant but truly profound in a way that only a man of a certain age and station in life can appreciate. Being one myself, I am now stuck in a purgatory of my own making, waiting forty minutes to hear Vest sing said lyric because I do NOT cheat, I treat an album’s run order as sacred, especially the first time through, and especially if I’m going to be reviewing the thing.

 

Yes, you read that right. I haven’t heard a note of music yet, and I’m already frustrated about waiting half an hour to hear a song whose lyrics I’ve just read for the first time. If that suggests to you that this album might just be extraordinary? it should.

 

It’s time to listen now. More after the break.

 

* * *

 

If you think being a teenager is hard, try staring middle age in the face. All those big dreams you had have been reduced to life-sized reality -- this is your job, this is your family, this is your life. No do-overs allowed. You’re past halfway from cradle to grave and this is IT and what exactly do you have to show for it? A boatload of responsibilities, a household full of stress, and your friends and siblings all grappling with similar strains and doubts.

 

Having already established himself as one of my favorite lyricists working today, Jean-Paul Vest is back, and neither he nor father-son rhythm section Artie (drums and background vocals) and A.J. (bass and background vocals) Riegger have lost a step. Fractures is a genuine Everyman American gothic, a spare, intense song-cycle that reaches into the mid-life male’s closet of anxieties and drags them all out one by one.

 

The New Year quickly establishes the album’s themes of restlessness and concern about time passing, the trio’s skittering arrangement foreshadowing trouble as Vest sings Look out ahead / we’re coming, coming fast / ready for the good old days to start at last / kick off the party with a laugh and a bang / leave your secrets in the closet / your failures where they hang.

 

Face To Face digs deeper yet as Vest explores the nooks and crannies of a sibling relationship on the rocks (I can only speculate why you never call here anymore / could be advice I gave came back to bite me / could be you mean to but never write me? the distance between us increases as the years accelerate / we used to share a bedroom, now we live in separate states / with less to laugh about, more to tolerate). The music is another jumpy rhythm section over which Vest and producer Bob Stander layer urgent, repeating chords, winching up the tension with each powerful verse.

 

The thing you notice only as the disc progresses is that there truly is an arc to this album’s story, but once you see it, no other run order could really work for these songs. Something Out Of Nothing accelerates the tempo another notch before finally releasing pent-up tension at the chorus of a song about the leap of faith that’s required both in creating a family and in keeping it going when times get rough (All those magicians / they pull the dove from their sleeve / you and I pay down the mortgage / and try to believe).

 

One Kind Word looks farther into the future of a similar relationship, Riegger’s drums rumbling gently in the back as Vest decorates his precise lyrics with stark, authoritative guitar strums: One kind word shouldn’t have to last me so long / you leave me sucking on a happy memory until the sweetness is gone / I can’t walk away from my faith in a good thing / even if it never comes. Ouch. An extended outro lends an epic, elegiac feel to this quietly devastating tune about losing faith in a relationship that’s built on it. Sequel A New Expression takes a more playful, sardonic look at what feels like the same relationship, set to a sing-songy electric blues arrangement.

 

The middle three tracks push the tempo, with The Switch Is On sounding initially like the album’s first upbeat song, handclaps and sunny acoustic strums setting the mood. And then the last verse comes along and offers what might actually be the album’s saddest moment, a vignette about filling the empty spaces in a relationship that’s suddenly full of them (We’re grateful now for any little errand / marker in the void / but you forget your wallet / and we’re driving back and forth / what’s a repetition / in the context of a loop / or a needle in a groove). Damn.

 

On the next cut Vest takes on one of his chief tormentors directly, calling out Time to a catchy, Byrds-influenced jangle-rock beat: Waiting like a bully / at the edge of the beach / kicking down castles / ready to bury me in the sand of history. Next up, the Springsteen influence comes on strong as Worth In Trade puts the album into fourth gear, an expansive electric track in which our narrator reaches outside himself to be the sounding board for a friend whose troubled relationship is going nowhere in a lifetime flat.

 

Setting up the album’s closing volley, A Song Like Yours backs things off to just Vest and his acoustic for a pretty tune about seeking your muse. The intense Spring Ahead unclenches gradually from there, narrating the last bitter fight in a doomed relationship over Vest’s rather eerie piano and the rustling rhythm pattern set by A.J. Riegger and guest drummer Larry Eagle (of Springsteen’s Sessions Band).

 

And then it’s here: the closer I’ve been waiting for. 100,001 does not disappoint; to the contrary, the way Vest speak-sings the lyric frames its poetry perfectly, a kind of hymn to the search for meaning that (hopefully) every sentient being goes through at some point. The odometer flips to a hundred grand / and it feels like progress / the vague taste of accomplishment helps you feel a little less lost / but it’s a random number / you’re treading water / it’s visually pleasing / but grossly misleading / the accumulation of mundane errands over time.

 

Fractures displays a more contemplative side of the band that made Getaway Car, a carefully contained intensity that contrasts with the previous album’s untethered nervous energy. It’s indisputably a more difficult disc to inhabit, and I’m honestly not sure what this disc might sound like to a 20-year-old – maybe a bit dour and over-analytical. But for this 45-year-old, Fractures hits like a target-locked cruise missile.

 

Fractures can be brutal at times, but that just makes the accomplishment that much greater when Vest succeeds in capturing the restlessness, doubt, yearning and recrimination of mid-life and making it into a beautiful, messy, painful and compassionate piece of art. Albums that challenge you this directly to think and feel and get caught up in another person’s perspective are rare today, but Fractures is one -- a wrenching, magnificent, thoroughly memorable one.

 

Rating: A