PICK OF THE WEEK: 40 Watt Sun pull back the pressure, deliver heartfelt gaze on ‘Perfect Light’

There is no set way to define heaviness, though typically with the music we cover it means art that is packed with distortion and abrasiveness, along with words that tend to go for the jugular. But that’s not the only means to hit your listeners with weighty material. Cutting through to their hearts and minds and making them feel something that heavily impacts them can be accomplished in more than one way.

That takes us to Patrick Walker and his long-running project 40 Watt Sun, itself a perfect example of a way to deliver art that’s as heavy as a planet, but the sonics won’t damage your hearing. Walker, who also is well regarded for his work in doom metal stalwarts Warning, has been making music under this banner since 2009, and from the start, things went toward the personal and introspective, even delving into romantic and relationship issues often avoided by the metal community since people are afraid of their feelings. Or something. That’s never been an issue for Walker, who always has put all of himself out there, and he does again with new full-length “Perfect Light,” the first 40 Watt Sun record in eight years. On this album, Walker goes more the singer-songwriter route, eschewing the full-band process though including notable contributors including Andrew Prestidge and Roland Scriver (The Osiris Club), Ajit Gill (Vertaal), Lorraine Rath (Amber Asylum/Worm Ouroboros), and pianist/composer Chris Redman. At eight tracks and nearly 68 minutes, this record is a slow burner, one best consumed at night with lights low, a strong drink in your hand as you can reflect along with these songs.

“Reveal” starts heavily acoustic, a folk push that’s just guitar and voice, naked and vulnerable. Walker and a guest vocalist blend perfectly as strings gush over this devotional. “Whatever you want to never reveal, whatever your broken eyes conceal, wherever the shells of lightning lead, wherever you want me, I will be,” he calls and later follows up with, “Oh, Ophelia, I’m strong enough to lift you up,” with the song fading into the horizon. “Behind My Eyes” runs 11:35 and starts with somber guitars and Walker calling, “We are wakening our lives together, we are unmaking everything we’re ashamed of.” The track is hopeful and emotional, dripping into the light, seeking healing and something better. “Meet the measure of my mind, this night won’t define us – it reveals us,” he offers as drums kick in for a jolt, and the track disappears into fog. “Until” is a more full-bodied, full band-style song that buries itself in an electric haze as Walker’s heartfelt singing pushes its way through. The power surges later as chords change and awaken you, sun cracks through the clouds, and an acoustic hum bows and heads into “Colours,” the shortest track at 4:19. It’s a ’70s-brushed, sepia-smeared track with Walker revealing, “You are the last light, you hold the glory, you throw the levels of life before me,” as the guitars delicately fade.

“The Spaces in Between” stretches 9:41 and has keys mixing with guitars and brushed drums, feeling sullen and painfully romantic. “You live in everything I love and everything I’ll never be, you’re traced in everything I touch,” Walker offers as the melodies keep filling you and making your heart challenge your mind. “Tonight, I will not try to harden truth with reasons,” Walker vows as shadows sweep and the guitars trickle, flowing toward the cold night. “Raise Me Up” is 9:47 and is moody and atmospheric, giving off a late summer vibe when the nights are a little cooler. The chorus is somber and will grip you as Walker laments of the flickering lights, “The way they go by reminds me of my pain.” Electrics surge as your cells engorge with warmth and sunbeams, the feelings rapidly increase, and Walker wonders, “Am I strong enough to carry this or too weak to let it go?” as the track burns off. “A Thousand Miles” begin with soft impulses and sympathetic vocals as the guitar work lights the skies. Melodies patter as Walker calls, “And in the sweeping tide of time, with the surging bank of despair, I’d feel the voice of your eyes in the knowing silence.” The guitars continue to trickle as the vibrations pick up, and then the sun sinks into the background, leaving darkness behind. “Closure” fittingly ends the record with acoustic rushes and more hushed singing, feeling like a folk gem from five decades ago. That ghost gets into your bloodstream as Walker sings to his subject, “If you were here to ask me what I now believe, I’d say, ‘Life can never be held but only lived,” a powerful and poignant final stamp.

This is as sensitive and vulnerable as Walker ever has been, though his work through Warning and 40 Watt Sun always consisted of him lying his bleeding heart open for the world to see. But on “Perfect Light,” the music is pulled back and lets Walker’s words and experiences take center stage as he reveals some of his most powerful sentiments in a manner where decibels can’t swallow the impact. This is a gorgeous, moving, human record, something that can find you in any season, in any situation, and live alongside your own life as you experience lights and darks.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/40wattsun

To buy the album, go here: https://40wattsunshop.bigcartel.com/products

Or here: https://svartrecords.com/product/40-watt-sun-perfect-light-album/

Or here: https://cappiorecords.bandcamp.com/

For more on the label, go here: https://svartrecords.com/

Or here: http://www.cappiorecords.com/