With a humble strum of the guitar and an affectionate vocal that is familiar and yet clearly unguarded for the very first time, Welcome to the Edge Times’ title track fills the air around us with an exquisite harmony that only Jon Patrick Walker could conjure up. The lyrics are introspective and personal, but the music surrounding them makes us feel completely embraced by the narrative Walker is trying to get across to us. Though the gallop of “We Won the War” presents the second song on Welcome to the Edge Times as being a bit more assaultive than its tracklist predecessor, the rich tonality and tender conveyances of the composer still reign supreme over its many twists and turns, both melodic and rigid in nature.
“We Won the War” concludes with a cinematic silence that is quickly broken up by the hazy stagger of “The Crystal Palace Park,” one of my favorite songs from the first half of the album. This track is easily one of the more progressive on Welcome to the Edge Times, and it sets us up for the grinding stampede of verses in “Whatchoo Gonna Do” like no other composition could have. Things slow down again for the balladic lull in the sonic storm that is “Angelina of the Sky,” but the anxious mood from the previous tracks lingers over us just the same. It’s not a concept album, but this latest affair from Jon Patrick Walker absolutely plays out like an extended stream of poetry that was taken directly from literature.
Walker picks up the tempo a bit for the thunderous folk anthem “The Mystical Ballad of Gregory Jim,” but it isn’t until he lays into the noir-like single “Luv U Girl” that we start to get a feel for what he can do when he’s firing on all cylinders. “Luv U Girl” is a stone cold dirge with a harmony at the 1:24 mark that will send shivers down the spine of any indie aficionado, regardless of age or taste, and it makes perfect sense to me why Walker would select it to be the first single from his new LP. “Like a Rose” takes a drastic turn towards a poppier rhythm, but as abrasive a shift as it is, I wouldn’t have re-arranged this tracklist to minimize the intensity at all.
“(Meet Me at the) Delaware Water Gap” might be the most confusing and contrasting composition included on Welcome to the Edge Times, but even with that said, trying to get its catchy chorus out of your head after being exposed to it is like trying to get mustard out of a white t-shirt – it’s basically next to impossible. We come full-circle with the harmonica-infected closer “Blues For My Baby,” which despite bearing a formulaic foundation is actually one of the more melodically-pleasing moments from the album’s latter half. When the song fades to black and Welcome to the Edge Times reaches its conclusion, but there’s a sense of unfinished business that persists long after the music has stopped playing. I’ve got a feeling that this isn’t the last we’ll hear from Jon Patrick Walker, but if it is, this album should be regarded as his finest and most inspired work of art.