Genre: Indie Folk, Slowcore
Favorite Tracks: “Only Water,” “The Nest,” “Last Night In Exile”
Londoner Jacob Ware has a more peculiar and diverse musical history than many over the past decade. With eight years as a founding member and bassist for UK death metal band Enslavement, one might expect any solo projects to be similarly extreme or brutal. Yet when Ware adopted the moniker Rapt as he embarked upon personal endeavors, the result was polar to what had come before: a sharp, 180-degree turn towards hypnotic, zephyr-like melody. Rapt, at least so far, is essentially two solo projects distinct from (yet informed by) each other, existing under the same banner name. There’s the ambient half of Ware’s output, which saw its genesis with his self-titled 2018 debut album and its continuation with last year’s DROUTH. Then there are his singer-songwriter releases: 2019’s WITHIN THRALL EP and 2020’s NONE OF THIS WILL MATTER. WAYWARD FAITH, Ware’s newest on long-standing Slovakian cassette label Z Tapes, is technically a follow-up to DROUTH but more accurately represents a revisitation of the soothing, intimate guitar-and-piano folk music of two years ago.
Ware notes that WAYWARD FAITH wasn’t so much pieced together to capture a specific time or location, but instead came about from overwhelming moments. Thus, the connectivity is held together with a loose thread, but held together, nevertheless. The lead single “The Nest” was written about a close friend who had fallen ill, rife with imagery of blood, ghosts, and rainfall, crafting a somber, blue-toned portrait. Ware’s voice, reminiscent of Damien Jurado, exhaustedly pleads “You were meant to live,” after turning towards religion for comfort and answers and discovering neither (“So I read the book / But it didn’t fit / I found god too intrusive / And quick to turn on the rain”). Meanwhile, “Fifteen” is a nostalgic recollection of regret, harkening back to the days of Ware’s youth as he ruminates upon his relationship with his father: “When I was 15 I pushed my dad to the floor / Only I know how much I think of it still / He’d provided the same food and warmth / That the mouse sought all along,” he sings.
Musically, WAYWARD FAITH exists as something akin to philosophically ambient slowcore. Ware’s deftly plucked acoustic guitar recalls the work of Nick Drake on some level, though the patterns he etches are generally less flashy, content to settle in tighter pockets and undergo minor, subtle shifts. The implied desired effect is how one listens closer to a whisper than a shout. Ware doesn’t scream for attention but goads lean-ins and usually gets what he wants. Conversely, you can allow the guitar-carved melodies, sparse piano, and occasional ambient-toned flourishes to wash over a cleared mind. There is no desperation for attention in how Ware approaches songwriting, nothing that could be called an aggressive, grab-you-by-the-throat-and-shake-you-awake moment. “Fallow (I-III)” features more obvious shifts as an implied three-parter, while the stunning “Last Night In Exile” stands out by featuring collaborator Demi Haynes on lead vocals, but overall, WAYWARD FAITH is humble and entrancing in an almost dissociative way when confronted as if it were a series of vague, sadly beautiful daydreams tied together with an invisible string.
WAYWARD FAITH is wistfully melancholic, but labeling it strictly depressive would be a misnomer. It doesn’t so much wallow in difficult and painful feelings but addresses and embraces them with a warm, inviting hug. It’s introspective self-therapy too gentle to outright demand empathy but more than welcomes it. Unlike the intrusive God referenced on “The Nest,” WAYWARD FAITH makes no real ultimatums: it wraps around you like a soft patchwork quilt of love and hazy memories and merely politely asks to be reciprocally enveloped.