Jonas Bonnetta of Evening Hymns trekked out to the Joshua Tree desert from nearby Los Angeles with a Super-8 camera when the spark arrived for his new album: "I had been listening to so much Tom Petty, and it kind of came to me that this record was a journey. A road trip album. A driving album." When talking about writing the songs on 2015's Quiet Energies, he speaks of growth and transformation, being generous and giving of oneself, and the inevitability of time passing by. The thrust of the album would be "the concept that all of this pent-up energy could be stored inside these quiet moments and still hold significance – like a whisper with the force of a hurricane.”
Open spaces have influenced Jonas since his childhood spent in rural Ontario where his parents built a home for their family on 50-acres of land: “It was dreamlike growing up there. We had a pond and two creeks. We built forts. We invented games. I lived there until I was 20 or 21. In my teens there was this old garage that my Gramps use to hang out with his old-time buddies on the weekends. It had a woodstove and a couple couches in the back. It’s where my first band used to jam. . . it’s where I got drunk for the first time.” Growing up, it was Superchunk’s Come Pick Me Up, that acted as a gateway record for Jonas, introducing him to the avant garde work of Jim O’Rourke and ultimately leading him on a path to discovering the indie world of Merge Records, Sub Pop Records and Matador Records. However, it was Hayden's record Everything I Long For, that changed the way he approached his songwriting. “That album was hugely influential. [When I heard it] it kind of knocked me out. His music guided everything I did for a long time. That entire period in my life was incredibly formative, creatively. I was able to truly see a lot of magic in music and latch onto that.”
Jonas never shies-away from revealing himself in his music, he bolsters his process with a trusted group of friends & musicians. It is mainstay producer James Bunton (Ohbijou, Diamond Rings) that has remained essential to the process of conceptualization since the debut LP: “James has a lot of patience for me. We can really speak to each other and we both have a deep appreciation for the meaningful; he always makes me a better musician.” Their joint production, 2013's Spectral Dusk, earned critical praise and was long-listed for the 2013 Polaris Music Prize. The grief-stricken homage to the passing of Bonnetta's father in 2009 is a testament to Jonas’ ability to explore and share himself through his music.
Immediately after completing a tour across North America & Europe in support of Spectral Dusk, Jonas set to work crafting new music. Throughout the tour, he was forced to keep the wounds of his father's death open: "There was no catharsis. The goal of all those shows was to serve those songs and make them real. It was never fun.” Longing for a familiar setting known to his youth, Jonas relocated from Toronto to the Ontario country-side and transformed his new home into a recording studio, setting up guitar amps in the basement, drums in the stove room, and a Wurlitzer in the kitchen. Reunited with band members Jon Hynes on bass, guitars, backing vocals, Andrew Kekewich on drums, and producer/engineer James Bunton, Evening Hymns crafted the new songs with the feel of “moving on, but with a big dose of nostalgia.”
Lyrically, Jonas commands maturity on the poignant “Rescue Teams”, reflecting 10-years later on one of the most turbulent periods of his life. "We ran the song many times and eventually James came into the room with tears rolling down his face - that became his benchmark for the song." Carving out livelier territory for the band, Jonas captures the invigorating and transformative trip to the high desert on the evocative, plainspoken ripper "All My Life I Have Been Running" and with the punchy rhythms on "House of Mirrors". Elsewhere, the pastoral surroundings of his new home-studio inspired touches of sonic exploration on the piano-guided "Connect the Lines", with the haunting string-work of Mika Posen (Agnes Obel, Timber Timbre) mixed with field recordings of a river boat's steam-whistle departing Dawson City on the Yukon River – "a place I always dreamed of getting to, and a place my dad always wanted to visit. It was part of closing the loop on that journey."
The songs on Quiet Energies exceed Evening Hymns' promise of stunning immensity, possessed with the possibility for accepting the irreconcilable: “I lost my dad's watch in the desert that day. I'm sure it's somewhere out there amongst the sand and boulders still ticking away.”