Jackson Boone just returned to Portland this week after a month-long tour in support of his recently released sophomore album, Natural Changes. Recorded in a beachfront vacation home only days after the release of his 2014 debut album Starlit, Boone brought producer Riley Geare of Unknown Mortal Orchestra back in for tracking and production. Although both albums were recorded so close together, Natural Changes manages to create a distinct sound, feeling more composed overall.
The first two tracks on the album, “Lala” and “Dolphin Turned Into a Cat,” feel like a bridge between the two albums, but where Natural Changes starts to deviate from its predecessor is on the third track, “Runaway.” This song is the pop-iest of the whole album — intoxicating guitar hooks cozied up to an ultra funky, burbling bass-line. While “Runaway” doesn’t kaleidoscope into the other songs as easily as the rest, it is one of the most memorable and definitely the most danceable.
From “Runaway” the album swells into what fans hope a Jackson Boone album will be: a small universe of sound, constantly changing. Nowhere is this more evident than on “Strawberry Vibes.” While this song isn’t the last of the album, it is definitely the triumphant climax to an incredibly dreamy, mellow compilation. The song starts as sleepily as the rest, with particularly stoned out vocals, luring you in to a song you expect to meander, but then everything changes. The song redirects with an ultra 70s bass-line, sexier than anything Jackson Boone has recorded before.
As wonderful as the rest of the album is, the most interesting and revelatory piece of the album is title track “Natural Changes,” which closes out the album. This song feels like a bittersweet goodbye, made even more aching with Patti King playing violin quietly over the top. This song isn’t psychedelic in the same way as the other songs on this album; it’s subtler than that. Perhaps it’s the harmonies, or all the minor chords, but with this song Jackson Boone has found harmony. A blissful balance between music that both sounds interesting and says something. If the track “Natural Changes” is indicative of the future of Jackson Boone’s music, waiting for their next album will be even more difficult.