Evening Hymns Hold a Psychedelic Church Service on 'Heavy Nights'

BY Sarah ChodosPublished Jun 24, 2020

Heavy Nights is a good name for an album that conveys a sense of quiet but not of emptiness. Significant events in Ontario songwriter Jonas Bonnetta's life, including the death of his father and the birth of his son, provided inspiration. The sound is a mix of religious hymn, lounge music, trance and meditation. The overarching thread is a kind of shape-shifting spirituality — a psychedelic church service held in a forest at night.

Evening Hymns have put out several albums, all spearheaded by Bonnetta and featuring different ensembles of musicians. Heavy Nights has a star-studded cast and includes past and present members of Destroyer, By Divine Right, Fucked Up and Broken Social Scene. Additionally, Bonnetta brings in his partner, Caylie Runciman of Boyhood, along, and his sister sings on "The Days Disintegrating." Bonnetta casts a net that is wide as well as deeply personal, which creates a sound that is impressive both technically and in terms of the depth of inner exploration.

Bonnetta's voice drones and is aligned with harmonies that almost sound like they are coming from offstage, which puts the focus on the varied instrumentation. "Pyrenees" has a strong electronic drumbeat and penetrating saxophone, while "Heavy Nights" features an intermittent whispering horn sound. "Kiss My Dreams" has a trance-like "hold on" as the refrain, but the mood is altered by a twinkling piano solo.

Heavy Nights is a transitional album. It's a bit less straightforward than the band's early releases, in that sometimes there is the sense it does not have a focal point or a direction. This is appropriate, however, given the way the song's address life's transitions.
(Shuffling Feet)

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