It’s not unfair to say that I have been very excited about the release of this album. From the first announcement of the band’s inception by way of Jeff Klein’s bifurcation of his Let’s Be Enemies solo project, through the tease of the occasional (and familiar) song title dripfed to the masses and dropping of collaborative names here and there, culminating in the release of the Without Feathers EP to finally and firmly announce the band’s arrival. This EP (and subsequent singles) served perfectly as appetisers for Gone For Good. And now the sheep-adorned main course has arrived, and it simply couldn’t be better.
For a band that hasn’t been together for a particularly great length of time and separated by geography and other employment, the fact that Gone For Good sounds as if it was put together with an almost-telepathic togetherness from its main players (Jeff Klein, David Rosser, Ashley Dzerigian, Jacob Evans and Rick G Nelson III – with special mention also to be made of artist Kenneth Parris III whose work has graced all of My Jeru’s work so far) and collaborators is great testament to the strength of both the songwriting and the bonds between the performers.
It’s an album that just doesn’t let up. From the gentle intro of Valley of Casualties to the barroom hymnal refrain to closer Farewell, Gone For Good is chock-full of surprises blended perfectly with some now-familiar favourites. Following straight on from the opener, Sweet Chariot – a song that comes across as My Jerusalem’s anthem – arrives in slightly different form with everything turned up that little bit more than the original mix, pursued by the airy acoustic pop of Remember Everything. And coming hot on the heels of this is Sleepwalking, its Heart Of Glass backbeat finally unleashed on record after first being released as an mp3 teaser back in the day.
There is such variety at work among the twelve tracks available here to put most other bands to shame, and one of Gone For Good’s biggest credits is that amongst all this difference in style, approach and performance whether it be the slightly sinister Dear Prudence-isms of Hit the Lights (with backing vocals courtesy of a great and typically ego-free underpinning from Mark Lanegan) to the filthy disco of Bury It Low, it never sounds like anyone but My Jerusalem, despite the occasional hints of influences both broad and specific throughout that carry that tantalizing tip-of-the-tongue recognition which gives music nerds like me knowing smiles whenever a flicker of an idea appears through whatever passes for a groove nowadays (the word ‘pit’ just doesn’t have the same warmth to it).
And central to all this is the Ringleader and instigator of all this, Jeff Klein, whose vocals throughout are a revelation – switching effortlessly from angelic whisper to demonic scream and all points in between, giving each different song the voice it needs and an honesty in delivery that brings the listeners into My Jerusalem’s confidence and holds them there for the entire duration of the record.
All in all, Gone For Good is an album that belies its ‘Debut’ status. It’s confident, open, honest and joyous, and has a genuine warmth throughout that disarms and uplifts. For definite, the best album I’ve heard this year by some considerable distance.