Mourning Jewelry is draped in silver and gold, its decorative objects slung over the neck or clasped tightly over a wrist, worn in remembrance of a lost loved one. Julie Carpenter’s Less Bells has been described as ‘creating beauty out of grief’, and her glinting, ethereal chants are beautiful, emanating from beyond the rusted gates of a graveyard while attempting to claim something higher than the soil and the earth. The shadowy sounds are almost gothic, and its classical ornamentation falls over the music’s moss-flecked stones.
With diverse instrumentation, including synthesizers, choirs, and strings, the overall atmosphere is composed of shadows and cobwebs, but glares of sunlight intermittently poke through to light up a spacious soundscape. Slices of ambient Americana are interwoven with the glinting, sun-tinted drones, rising up over forests and shining upon sparse, arena-like valleys of sound. As such, Mourning Jewelry is a record of contrasts. The light of life gives up the ghost and passes through into darkness and death, but a cooler, eclipse-at-midday slab of sunshine overthrows the nocturnal passages.
Mystic drones and shimmering melodies create a mirage of intense heat, and upright strings are married to open, lucid soundscapes. Dispersed vocal arrangements wrap around the music from time to time, and the result is haunting, graceful, and beautiful. It isn’t too heavy, nor does it choose to dress in the mourning gear of black. Understanding that life is temporary, her music sees the beauty of its transience, appreciative of times gone by. They enhanced life, turned brass into refined gold. Mourning Jewelry is music of composure and intermittent grace, putting on a brave face even during the mire of grief and mourning. In some places, the music feels like a celebration. There is beauty in sadness, and Julie Carpenter has tapped into a universal experience. Cinematic, elegant, and with a quality to match that of royalty, Mourning Jewelry oozes class and composure.