Including Matt LaJoie’s 2020 masterpiece Everlasting Spring as part of Foxy Digitalis’ reintroduction to the world was intentional. LaJoie’s music not only brought boundless positive energy to a year in desperate need of it, it also inspired my own work in new, unexpected ways. As I listened to that album on repeat, words and images swirled in my head to the point I started making little notes to add some semblance of permanence to those thoughts. His work also inspired my own, but that’s a story for another day.
With 2021 kicking off in the same chasm 2020 left us in, Paraclete Tongue is a balm. As the third entry in LaJoie’s planned quintet of solo guitar albums dedicated to the energy of a particular element, it’s gentle sonic brightness bathes everything in a hopeful golden glow. “Kuchina’s Dance” lays down swaying major chords that LaJoie floats entrancing, uplifting harmonics through the lush aural valleys. For an album inspired by fire, it’s impossible to not to feel the connection between these sunlit loops and the few rays of hope 2021 offers.
In 2020, I leaned heavily on the positivity-laced spirituality of Laraaji. Feeling stuck shrouded in so much darkness, his work was a gift I gave myself each morning to find strength for the day ahead. LaJoie taps into that same cosmic river. With “Kandelbright Grotto,” the addition of fuzz has the opposite impact I expected. Instead of adding a heaviness, it digs into the center gravity of the piece and pushes it apart in every direction until the whole thing sounds like specks of shimmering dust floating in the air. Weightless, with eyes closed, you end up traversing toward a higher plane in preparation for the side-long stunner, “Flame of Incarnation.”
I’m amazed that this entire record was recorded live with no overdubs. “Flame of Incarnation” is a sprawling sonic path lined with stops and starts, a search for solace in the inferno. Poetic sections shift like a lost traveler changing direction when the conditions warrant. LaJoie blazes his own trail with confidence, leaving clear tonal gemstones in his wake. His music is as cathartic as it is beautiful.
If Everlasting Spring was one of 2020’s finest guitar albums, I have no doubt Paraclete Tongue will find itself in a similar position for 2021. Matt LaJoie’s spirit sets his work apart from so many others. Channeled into his guitar work, it becomes uniquely his own, and as he uses his music to guide listeners through every landscape imaginable, we all find a warm embrace.