Any fan of introspective music on the alternative end of things must check out The Wailing Wall's debut album, Hospital Blossoms. The brainchild of NYC-based musician Jesse Rifkin, The Wailing Wall brings together an immensely talented group of musicians to tell a story of sadness, acceptance and catharsis. Rifkin relates the concept behind the album to a phoenix rising from the ashes; it's about embracing the pains of life and being able to blossom out of them, cleansed, content and ready for the next trial.
Using the layout of the album as structure, the track listing lends symbolism. Morning and Morning #2 are the first and last songs, respectively. Morning opens the album with the chirping of birds and menacing growls of thunder, while Morning #2 closes with a crescendo of chaos that suddenly cuts to silence, speaking to the cyclic chaos of life's tribulations.
A wide range of conventional and not-so-conventional instruments flavors the entire album, with Rifkin himself playing everything from guitar to gamelan, mandolin to accordion and harmonica to harmonium. His captivating lyrics are no less intentional; to explain his lengthy writing process Rifkin cites Twain, "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."
His masterful composition skills shine especially strong in the CD's title song, "Hospital Blossom." In fact, its a track so captivating that I lost myself in listening to it repeatedly, nearly missing my interview with Jesse.
An impressive compilation, the entire album is now available online for free download, courtesy of JDub Records.