San Fermin Jackrabbit
Published Apr 22, 2015Under the careful stewardship of mastermind Ellis Ludwig-Leone, Brooklyn's San Fermin has become a ferocious, precise vessel through which the sophisticated composer/songwriter can explore themes of love, yearning, mortality and the loss of innocence in an intensely cinematic fashion. His predilection for marrying sublime pop melodies to bombastic arrangements laced with classical avant-garde flourishes has reached a new level of focus, and, resultantly, potency, on Jackrabbit.
While Ludwig-Leone's clarity of vision has surely grown, recording with the same unit the project most recently toured with (including now-regular co-lead vocalist, Charlene Kaye) seems to have added a sense of cohesiveness and intimacy, which is vital for an album as personal as Jackrabbit feels. Lyrically, this 15-song cycle evokes transitory imagery and symbols from growing stages of emotional development, pondering a childlike, terror-specked wonder of the unknown in "The Woods," examining iconic objectification through loneliness and fantasy in "Woman In Red" and reconciling these base impulses with an enlightened view of humanity's big picture in the album's home stretch.
Crafted and arranged with laudable specificity and nurtured as if by a proud mother, even the instrumental interludes (Ludwig-Leone's time spent working with Nico Muhly is more sonically evident in these moments than ever) on Jackrabbit are as important to the emotional narrative as the impeccably constructed and unshakeably catchy pop pieces. As the album's key conceptual refrain reminds us, we may just be made of flesh and blood and bone, but those organic building blocks working in concert can birth magic. (Downtown)