Sparser than his prior LP, 2013's Loyalty, Light Enough is primarily a collection of sung vignettes by writer and singer/songwriter Jaye Bartell. Featuring just voice, guitars, and occasional keyboards, but dominated by strummed acoustic guitar, the album embraces a traditional sense of folk commingled with stark introspection, word play, and the sonorous, sullen delivery of Bartell's Nick Cave-evoking baritone. An effective courier of rumination and fleeting snapshots of day-to-day struggle, Bartell has cited Spalding Gray among several literary influences for the record. It also carries a theme of "resettlement" inspired by the songwriter's recent move to Brooklyn. The opener, "G & Me," contemplates the idea of a fresh start, or the delusion of one: "There's a whole new life/A whole new lie/On the other side of the bridge." Like all of Light Enough, melancholy in tone, the song is colored by acoustic rhythm guitar and semi-melodic electric guitar, and ends abruptly -- a device used repeatedly and with meaning on the album. Later, "Laundry Line" paints an intimate, multi-sensory domestic scene involving routine, such as folding clothes. He's joined by female vocal harmony on part of the song, which anticipates "Barefoot until lunchtime/Some errands and then/You're home to real me" as it alternates between moments of intimate affection and ennui. Musical expression beyond Bartell's restrained melodies and wistful guitars include moments like on "The Worm" ("The worm is in my heart/In the worst part of me"), which has a lone guitar joined by dissonant clinking and mechanical humming sounds that outlast his voice and instrument with symbolic implications. Unsteady tempos, shifting meters, minor starts and stops, and flute-like tones mark "The Ceiling," in which the storyteller ponders loss, seclusion, regret, and the desire for sleep ("I'm floating on the ceiling now"). Ideal for existential Sunday afternoons or late-night contemplation, Light Enough is both heavy and light, in potentially very relatable ways.
AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson