Jeremy Squires returns with his new album, Riddle of Stars. It began life with an electric soundtrack. However, due to the song “Blood Pact” being a farewell poem for his friend’s funeral, this release evolved into something stripped back with a heart-stirring nature. Its delicate mood features his finger-picking guitar style, piano and the occasional pedal steel guitar or organ. Squires has always been honest with his writing, either as poems or as songs. The album keeps that quality that makes his music so compelling to many, a trait that has consistently stood out throughout his impressive 15 albums.
Squires has already showcased what the album has to offer with the singles “Play Dead”, “Vampires”, and “Graveyard”. Also, bringing some of his songs to life (as a director) with a series of companion videos. Using backdrops of “the salty-aired east coast’s most compelling natural and gothic features — waterways, Spanish moss, rusted iron cemetery gates and ageing statues of angels as graveyard centrepieces”. “Play Dead” sees the talents of his 14-year-old daughter, who helped to shoot this video. It all helps to add a mesmerising visual quality to his songwriting.
The album opens up with the short instrumental “Valley”. His gentle and mesmerising guitar style creates a haunting atmosphere. It gently pulls in the listener and sets the mood for “Blood Pact”. As mentioned earlier, this track is a personal moment for Squires. You can hear this as he shares his words with a haunted but emotional tone. A feeling that hits hard as he repeats the lines, “Until we fade / Please lay with me silently”. It is a moment more about the emotional message than his words. Its soundtrack with electronic beats is an interesting addition as it is a little different to his usual sound. But one that does not feel out of place as it adds extra depth to its tone.
Squires returns to his familiar Americana sound with “Play Dead”. From the outset, his guitar delivers a warm and mesmerising tone that is the foundation of this track. It does not take long for his tale to begin. He does so with the lines, “These bruises are misleading / Sometimes I think this cycle never ends / We slide from top to bottom to turn around and climb again”. It is written more like a poem than your usual song structures (like all the others on the album). Doing so makes this collection of songs more of a unique listening experience. “Play Dead” is also the perfect showing of his guitar talents. It sings in its own way, creating a duet-like partnership. His playing shines throughout but steals the spotlight as it closes the track.
His guitar steps back during “Omens”, providing a more minimalist tone to let Squires storytelling qualities stand out. For this one, he talks about ghosts being around him. It’s open to interpretation of the meaning behind his words. Maybe it is about missing people we have lost and thinking they are still with us. Listen to the lines, “I feel ghosts all around me / I sense your arms wrapped around / I feel your breath on the nape of my neck / I feel ghosts all around me, every night”, to decide for yourself. “Vampires” offers more of a country sound, adding another side to this album. But, due to the lyrical content (the struggles of letting go), it has a haunting element. A mood enforced by the way he shares his words.
Jeremy Squires delivers another honest and captivating collections of songs with his new album ‘Riddle of Stars’
“Carousels” sees Squires swap his guitar for a piano. It creates an emotional atmosphere that helps to deliver lines such as “Around and around we go / Just say goodbye / What I should have known was in her eyes”. Yet again, his vocals are captivating as he shares his words. A trait that continues into “Please Stay”. It’s a song that feels more upbeat (thanks to his ukulele), even though the lyrics may not feel that way. The track talks about losing someone, but the love for them will always remain. Yet again, the tone of his voice says as much as his words. It continues to showcase his heart-on-his-sleeve style of songwriting.
Squires piano and vocals set a moody tone for “Heart Swell”. It is clear to hear from the opening lines, “Morning light surrounds you / As you kneel at the altar / With a rose you carry in your hands / A prayer no one could understand”. Helping to reflect his lyrics about the feeling of pain as highlighted by “When your mind is a merry go round / It feels dizzy and slow / May the thorns around your heart form a crown / Dear, you’re free to let go”. It continues to maintain the captivating quality of Riddle of Stars, like his guitar on the closing track “Graveyard”. From its start, his fingers dance around his guitar to showcase more of his talents. It creates a fast-moving soundtrack that leaves you wanting more when it is over.
Riddle of Stars is another collection of songs with a raw honesty that makes it easy for listeners to connect with. The lack of the usual song structure style makes his music more unpredictable and allows him to write without boundaries. It is another beautiful release that makes you feel what he is saying as well as hearing it. It’s a quality that makes this album essential listening. Take some time, press play and enjoy what Jeremy Squires has created.