Review Summary: She pulls down her pants, a little, and says "Do you see where I used to be a boy?"
Jordaan Mason and The Horse Museum consists of Jordaan Mason on lead vocals and guitar, and a band called The Horse Museum on just about anything else you could think of. Both of them hail from Toronto Canada. Divorce Lawyers I Shaved My Head is a lo-fi folk album of epic proportions, covering the relationship of a married couple as they endure their woes of gender confusion (the wife has a dick and the husband talks about giving birth) amongst other things. The album art is a testament to just how fuc
ked up the lyrics are in the album, yet they are able to keep a large amount of disturbing sentimental value which really makes listening to the album an experience you’ve probably never had before.
The lyrics are debatably one of my favorite parts of the album. Mason uses gorgeous metaphors for the problems in their dysfunctional relationship, such as the section from Prayer
which says “Sold my skin for all their cancer/ what do you want from me? I will not clinic you easy/ I am holding conversations: limp gazelles in my arms/ and we are absolutely calm.” The use of vivid imagery also helps to make the lyrics more of a story than anything else. While it would be easy to write off the husband as hating his wife for all of the problems they have as a couple, there are also hints towards his love for her such as in Carpenter
when he tells his wife “let’s sleep again/ sin our way through secrets and cause all the violence/ and let’s leave our bodies/ pull our skin from these bones, and this house from these homes.” As a result of all these things, we get a very insightful look into the character’s feelings and emotions which makes the album all the more curious.
Jordaan Mason has quite a unique voice. It sounds quite a bit like Jeff Magnum’s voice, only it maintains a certain amount of edginess that manages to add an extra bite to the emotional investment factor of his vocals. He wails and croons his way through 13 tracks of incredibly convincing confusion, with After The Glandonian War
being an instrumental. Joining him on the vocals are female members of The Horse Museum who are supposed to be taking the place of the wife as far as the lyrics go. They really add another dimension to the music and make some songs that could have possibly slid by stand out a hell of a lot more. The recording quality contributes very well to the vocals, giving everything a very raw quality which manages to come across very well.
The instrumentals are also very solid, much like the rest of the album. There is a lot of guitar and piano accompaniment which, like the vocals, work well with the recording style that they used. Joining in are a banjo, a trombone, a horn in F, a flute, a trumpet, a glock, a harp, a cello, a bass, and also a drum kit player from what I could tell. Although the vocals are allowed to “drive the bus” as one would say, the instrumentalists don’t exactly take a backseat. They play in a very additive way and some switch to vocals every once in a while, which really helps give the album a lot of differentiation between the tracks. Also, many of the songs really get a driving force from possibly a trombone part plodding away. One of my personal favorite tracks would be After The Glandonian War
which has an absolutely heartbreaking flute line when it is grouped in with all of the other instruments (I have no idea what some of these instruments are).
All of these elements band together to create one of the most peculiar folk albums I’ve ever had the chance to listen to. The depth of the songwriting and the obvious talent that all of the instrumentalists/vocalists have is infatuating, and the catchiness of some of the songs makes it have a very fun aura which is quite a juxtaposition with the content of the songs. The band is smart enough to not step on any toes with their debut full length album but are still able to make an accessible masterpiece, which makes this one of my new favorite albums. If I had discovered this last year, it would have easily been able to bully its way up to the top of my best of 2009 list.