Son of Laughter’s – “The Mantis and the Moon”

Holly has high praise for Son of Laughter’s latest effort. Check it out.

Holly Etchison

out of 10

Son of Laughter
The Mantis and the Moon
June 18, 2013

Better to sit at some man’s feet
Than thrill a listening state;
Better suspect that thou art proud
Than be sure that thou art great.
Better to miss thy manhood’s aim
Than sacrifice the boy’s.
-George Macdonald

In this day and age, it’s a nice feeling to be able to see the heart in a project. Truly get behind it without qualms, with a belief that the artist’s aim is true. Kind of like finding a modest, dust covered book in the library shelf only to open up a world of hidden treasure. Chris Slaten (under the moniker Son of Laughter) on his five track ep The Mantis and the Moon, may just have plowed a portion of the road ahead and left it pretty unfurrowed for the next traveler on the proverbial narrow way.

Shades of Paul Simon moonlighting in the Caribbean start the action on “Cricket in a Jar.” Exuberant and delightful, it is a light-hearted exhortation to catch and release life‘s experiences, simultaneously enjoying and letting them go: “Catch the moment! The moment is passed. This is a law of loveliness: we love what never lasts.”

“Grace Is Gold” reminds of a gentle, jazzy, easy listening Rickie Lee Jones, Pop! Pop! era. The strings and percussion carry a clever analogy on the perils of man’s prideful parade and the rescue afforded by the mystical notion that is grace:

Who could ever guess that the thorn in your side was drilling a well of life?
And grace is gold that never grows old.
God’s grace is gold for broken banks to hold.

Slaten’s ability to be wordy yet not overly profuse or ponderous shines in the up tempo title track, “The Mantis and The Moon.“ With John Prine vocal undertones, imagery from the familiar folktale of a tiny bug with delusions of grandeur, a mere reflection his pretend glorious chariot, rides cleverly alongside allusions to Cinderella’s stepsister. It connects a consistent theme of the project: a longing to deign yourself something you weren’t meant to be and go where you’d be better not having gone. Sweetly proving poetic dexterity, “Partington Cove” gently closes the album with lovely orchestration and heart stirring lyrics:

Oh how love can change who you are
in a matter of moments, in a day.
No one ever told us we need not go far
to travel such a long, long way.
A journey has been shared as things fade into silence.

“Mantis” reads like a musical storybook: paeans of personal reflection and realization are punctuated with symbolism that manages not to be heavy-handed, but makes a satisfying impact nonetheless. Solid songwriting and lyrical melodies carry the listener to the end. The ability to laugh at ourselves, at life in general, to find identity and keep joy along the way are celebrated in these well crafted and played songs.

-Holly Etchison, August 9, 2013