I’m breaking the silence of my inner peace by sneaking notes, and it reminds me of the time I spent 10 days in silence at Suan Mokh, a Buddhist Vipassana retreat at a temple in Southern Thailand.  But I’m not in Thailand; I’m in the courtyard of an upscale condo on Queen St W., across from Trinity Bellwoods park. All around me, music journalists sit pensively with their headphones on. The sullen voice.of Jonas Bonnetta, of Evening Hymns, and his autumnal Spectral Dusk album, (supported by members of The Wooden Sky, City and Colour and Timber Timbre) surrounds us communally through our synchronized ipods and mp3 players. Like the old marmalade cat poised on the upper balcony to us, my mind ought to wander with the droning country soundscape. Attached, yet detached, we sit as one.

The gray skies that threaten to burst only add to the delicate tension of the album that deals with the death of Jonas’s father. Songs of sorrow and fat wet raindrops fall like tears on my arms. Another few splatter my screen. It’s not fair to compare but I’d liken him to a mournful Leonard Cohen, with less cryptic lyrics and a focus on life lessons and longings like, the line from Spectral Dusk the title closing track, “I need you if I’m to be a man.” Followed by two minutes of field recordings taken from a country spot known as The Burn, where his dad’s ashes were a scattered. The blowing wind and rushing water do their best to sweep away the spectral catharsis that has set in.

“It’s terrible to put yourself thru the wringer every time you get on stage,” Jonas tells us after during an intimate Q&A. “I’ll be in front of a thousand people in some beautiful hall in Europe and then when I hit the first note, it strikes me ”Oh ya… I don’t have a dad.”  Jonas actually can’t wait to release his next album, (he’s got two in the bag even), so he won’t have to keep pouring salt over old wounds. I imagine he’s gone through a whole shaker by now.

When was the last time I actually listened to an album from start to finish with headphones and no distractions? My last conscious memory brings me to high school, maybe TOOL’s Aenema album, but my pride insists it was more recently.  Regardless, this exercise made me realize how much a lost past time it has become and how age and time are wearing away at our focus. As Jonas said earlier during his talk, “living out in the forest makes SO much sense.” I only wish I could return to that place inside myself as well.

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