When Nick Drake died in 1974, it must have seemed as though a very important part of acoustic folk music died with him.
Yet 35 years later, Denver seems to be holding what could be the very next gem in heartbreakingly honest acoustic music.
It is no secret why Jonathan Stark gave the “Comfort EP” its name. It is exactly a comfort. Stark’s voice sounds like that of an old friend who is reassuring you that everything really will work out for the best.
“Dear Darlin’,” the opening track, begins on an optimistic apology with Stark rasping the line, “I return to you with love’s new craze.” Further on in the song, Stark promises to never let his love go again, and upon hearing him sing it and with limited knowledge of who he is, one might actually believe.
“Madison,” brings out the innocent tone of Stark’s work in which he sounds like a na’ve young boy who is promising the love of his life that she is indeed, “every reason to fix mistakes.”
“Bellevue,” is more of a soft lullaby than a song that would come next on the EP, so much so that Stark’s voice seems to drop off and become deeper than it needs to be. Although it’s a weaker track on the EP, it is still true to style.
The next three tracks on the EP play out to be more of an introspective look at Stark himself.
Beginning with “Underwater House,” listeners learn of Stark finding a confidence in himself that he swings as though he “fought for what [he] thought was right.” However, despite the somber beginning to the song, it picks up and becomes somewhat of an inspiration that might make anyone listening want to fight for what they think is right.
Fans of City and Colour would find themselves enjoying the offbeat strumming pattern of, “Watchin’ The World,” while Stark gracefully touches on watching the world pass one day at a time.
So much has come to be expected of acoustic acts as being boring, slow, and having no charisma, which is why when the final track on the EP, “Comfort,” rings out its ever-catchy chord progression, listeners may want to grab their nearest loved one and jump in the car for a road trip. “So come with me, we’ll walk away the worries of our minds,” is the line in the song that really makes listening to Stark’s journey of an innocent boy into a contemplative and mature songwriter worth it all.
Stark may be a young face in the genre, but he shows craftsmanship in song that is years beyond what he has already accomplished. At least he can take comfort in that.
Staff writer Ian Mahan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.