[Light Of Morning; 2011]

I’ve never really thought that there was a market for lullaby music, but the amount of results delivered to me when I type “lullaby” into the music section of Amazon’s website makes me reconsider. Upon encountering lullaby renditions of songs by bands like Radiohead, Nirvana and Queens of the Stone Age (to name a few) in the past, I thought such albums were whimsical, but there really seems to be a serious market for this. It’s an odd thought to think that somewhere out there parents really want their kids to go to sleep to twinkly versions of their own favourite bands.

If you’re Essie Jain however, you go one step further and respond to all your friends having children by making them a self-professed “lullaby record”. Consisting of eight gentle and deliberately paced songs, Until The Light Of Morning is pretty much the perfect soundtrack you could want your kids to fall asleep to. The first half of the album is dedicated to more vocal tracks like “What A Big Wide World” and “Falling Asleep” which sound like they have been plucked straight from a kid’s TV show with their relatable images of animals, stars and trees (kids like trees, right?). The latter half of the album is then given to gentle piano ballads with little or no accompaniment. If the record is to be considered an actual soundtrack to a child’s bedtime routine, then closing track “Midnight Starship” couldn’t be a more perfect track: an exceptionally soft and ambling piano number that is exactly the kind of song you might play on the piano in the early hours if you know someone is asleep nearby.

For all its success as a lullaby album, The Light Of Morning’s flaw shows when you consider it as another Essie Jain album. The considered and careful arrangements come across as trademark when you’ve familiarised yourself with Jain’s previous work and her almost haunting alto is as strong as ever (though perhaps a little more soothing and welcoming on this album). One aspect where the album seems to outdo its counterparts is in the intimacy one feels when listening. I recall being quite surprised when reading the liner notes to The Inbetween and finding out a whole bunch of other musicians played with Jain on the record. With On The Light Of Morning I can’t imagine it being more than her and maybe one or two others. Quite often though, it sounds like her alone on piano or guitar playing in the very same room as you. Because the songs rarely go faster than a baby’s spinning mobile, the album has an inevitable lulling effect. Sure enough I can listen to this as I’m going to bed and it will help me drift off perfectly, but listening to it on my way to work on a chilly Sunday morning makes me wish I was snuggled under my bed covers again.

But this is to be expected and I can’t really bring down the album on this ground. Everything else you could want from a Jain album is here (bar the uppity pace tracks like “The Rights” had). “I’m Not Afraid Of The Dark” even manages to throw in a slightly philosophical thought (why do babies cry when they would have no concept of fear of darkness like we do?) beside precious lyrics (“I’ve got your love from the start/ I’m the way you made me”). But in all honesty, as much as I’ve come to adore Jain’s work since her last album, I don’t want to come out of listening to her work as lethargic as I do after putting on The Light Of Morning.