[midlife 150] #105: papa m “over jordan”

January 18, 2011

Album cover for Whatever, Mortal by Papa M

#105 Over Jordan by Papa M, available on Whatever, Mortal, 2001 [buy from Amazon.co.uk] [buy from iTunes]

“I am a whore” intones David Pajo (a.k.a Papa M, Aerial M, M, Evila and plain old Pajo) at the beginning of Over Jordan, the opening track on his outstanding post-folk album Whatever, Mortal.

He might be referring to his almost pathological promiscuousness over the years in working with other musicians (Slint of course, but also Will Oldham, The For Carnation, Tortoise, Stereolab, Royal Trux, Zwan, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Interpol to name a few), but I doubt it.

Setting a world-weary, emotionally spent voice against primitive (in its purity) picked guitar and banjo, Over Jordan is a hymn to our true home, the final resting place beyond a life – and loves – already fought for, won and lost.

Evoking a Fordian journey of return and redemption, the song performs its role as scene-setter for Pajo’s story-rich journey against the backdrop of a fading rural America perfectly. Through it the album begins at the end, going on to recount – as though in flashback – a life rich in the agonising pleasures of love.

Love’s fortune is transformed, for the worse, three-quarters into the album with Sabotage (an album highlight, musically speaking) bringing us, in the end, right back to the beginning: the journey home.

This review is part of close to 94‘s [midlife 150] series, which counts down favourite music 1970-2009.

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