In the final section of Four Quartets, “Little Gidding,” T.S. Eliot writes:
We shall not cease from exploration/And the end of all our exploring/ Will be to arrive where we started/
And know the place for the first time.
Exploration and arrival are equally integral parts of a paradox, in which “knowing” happens only in the absence of attempting to “know.” Bounty, Bill Bloomer’s beautifully rendered new album, traverses similar terrain, the narrative trajectory of these eleven new tracks revealing a thoroughly tapped present tense, a fully realized receptivity to what is now.
Bounty’s opening track and first official single, “Doing Things Different,” announces its intention:
First edition dog-eared Zane Gray lies spine broken on the bed.
Between the covers we’ll see what lies ahead.
We read so many mysteries. Yours is the best I’ve found.
So I guess I’ll stick around.
The mystery of being human just is, no spoilers needed. Mystery writers offer “lies,” the fleeting satisfaction of a contextual truth. Human experience, by contrast, finds its essence—mind, body, spirit–“between the covers,” and navigates, perpetually, the unknown:
So we’ll rise and shine tomorrow . Roll away the stone somehow .
And feel better than the law allows .
If we keep doing things different . Just doing things different.
In this new heaven we’ve found !
We’ll keep doing things different and how.
Conveying a similar belief in the primacy of the human spirit, a track such as “Our Boat At The End Of The World,” which features Myshkin Warbler as the duet’s lovely second voice, offers what Bill Bloomer calls, “a torch song of hope and survival in dark times:”
So don’t be scared to get both feet wet. Stick ten toes in and make a stir
The best parts may happen yet in our boat at the end of the world
With the strength of a lullaby and the resonance of a prayer, the hidden and the unknown are recast as a source of power and inspiration. This ability to “know” anew, as T.S. Eliot suggests in “Little Gidding”, is called upon as an antidote to despair.
Finally, “Thoroughbreds,” perhaps the album’s most uplifting track, with the help of a cast of incredible talent, including Gar Robertson (producer/engineer/mixer), Wally Ingram (David Lindley), and Bobby Furgo (Leonard Cohen), reaffirms–through the percussive beat of positive marching orders–every-soul’s intimate ability to connect:
I’m clinging to her spirit . Homespun diamond . Heart of gold .
Then) Everything turns greener . The highway rolls so smooth.
I see a little bit of her in any good I do.
In the context of a long and successful career as a singer/songwriter in the old school troubadour tradition, it seems counterintuitive to call Bounty a “mature” work, but I will say Bill Bloomer’s latest album is a synthesis of sorts, bringing together the best of his last four albums, including last year’s wonderful fan favorite, Jubilee (2018). Bounty, a double entendre, implying both the price on one’s head and the cornucopia available when one is ready to receive, was chosen, I suspect, purposefully. AND I also suspect that currently Bill Bloomer’s cup runneth over, and he wants his listeners to know that that cup can be accessed by all. Discover more, here: www.billbloomer.com
Bounty showcases an impressive catalog of support and contribution. The album is Bill Bloomer’s second release from Red Barn Recorders, with Gar Robertson (producer/engineer/mixer) at the helm, and the third project featuring Bill’s all-star studio band including
Bobby Furgo (Leonard Cohen), Danny Frankel (Lou Reed),
Wally Ingram (David Lindley), Kip and Lisa Mednick Powell (Ray Wylie Hubbard), and a special guest appearance by Anthony Patler (The Temptations). Finally, Bounty is mastered by Grammy nominated engineer and producer, Dennis Moody .