Last updated on May 18, 2021
We learned it all in kindergarten, right? Stop, look, and listen might be the keys to a good life. The multi-instrumentalist known as Bomethius‘s Seasons of Limbo dishes up new perspectives in this astute cultural commentary set to song.
Singer-songwriter Jonathan Hodges and his alter ego work well together. The Dallas-based talent began playing violin at 3 years old. He studied violin at Southern Methodist University, earning a degree in performance. The new record is my first exposure to Bomethius, though this is his fifth record. (For virgins to these musical wonders, his 2020 release inadiquit is also worth exploring.)
Opener “Traffic” suggests Hodges as a lyricist/writer reminiscent of Shel Silverstein. (The record’s cover art fully supports the connection.) Weirdly light sonically, it’s an invitation to look at the proverbial train wreck via buttery vocals set to a familiar country stroll. “As Yourself” shines, letting the violinist soar as the driving performance in this masterpiece. Merging elements of classical Spanish folk with ragtime, horns blend with guitar in a proclamation of cultural dysfunction worthy of Andrew Bird.
“A Close Call” is a reflection of Covid-19 chaos. Sweet, simple, and introspective, this track feels like a collective exhale the world feels after surviving the past year. Yet Hodges sings nearly breathlessly with an authenticity that connects. Spiritual artists need not be subtle, and “I’m Trying” stands as one of the most profound revelations set to songs I can recall. Restrained, resilient, tired, yet hopeful; diverse emotions all come through simple lyrics. Ben Cato and Charlie Pinkard produced the slide guitar on this track, a symphony of feeling that embodies the existential beauty of God’s love.
Cacophony and chaos drift in and out, as “Nothing Intro” stomps into “Nothing.” “Nothing” trips towards discordant rock, making my list of songs that bring to mind Rivers Cuomo. At first, this trip towards Animal House seems odd, but this record’s lyricist has a plan. Whiplashed back to the beginning, we’re back listening to the train wreck, toes tapping and whistling along. “Tornados in Dallas” recalls the chaos of the events that brought destruction in an unlikely place. Melancholy haunts each note, as sadness and strength rise.
Saving the best for last, “All I’ll Need” serves as breathtaking mixology: a haunting stream-of-consciousness jazz number. Hodges redefines his vocal style throughout the record, but rests here, wrapped in strings. Pristine ethereal perfection! “Shake My Spirit” goes back to the revival tent, bringing it home with acoustic gospel beauty.
Calling out society’s failings, what clicks is humanity’s connection despite our differences. Uncluttered, the recording allows each note to breathe unencumbered. As a vocalist, Bomethius’s soul wraps each note around the acoustic guitar in a perfect stairway to heaven. Closer “Where Are My People” is a fitting end to this incredible collection of music. Tobie Milford’s 2015 release Listen to the Trees Grow comes to mind here, an example of like-minded artistry. It’s simply genius. Treat yourself with Bomethius’s Seasons of Limbo.–Lisa Whealy