In her third album, Canadian singer-songwriter Jennifer Castle aimed to put the ‘fictional concept of death’ in the centre of her vision, arming herself with ‘writing’ to talk about the theme. And while death is always looming around the corner of Angels of Death, Castle fortunately keeps playing joyful, upbeat songs. The musical arrangement is often sparse, focusing on details rather than overwhelming Castle’s voice with bells and whistles. A good choice, because she sounds clear as glass, reaching high and low notes seemingly effortlessly, and with a swinging delight.
The opening song, ‘Tomorrow’s Mourning’, is introduced with a couple of soft piano tunes. Castle’s voice is vulnerable, yet there a sense of strength lying underneath the fragility. This melancholy is quickly replaced by the more jazzy ‘Crying Shame’, in which the additional vocals create a gospel sound, while ‘Rose Waterfalls’ fits right within the tradition of country music with strong, female leads. Near the end of the album, the songs turn inward-looking once more, and Castle voice becomes more quiet, like the surface of shimmering water.
With a gorgeous album cover, on which photographs of the artist and a natural scene merge to create a dream-like reality, Angels of Death is a simple yet impressive album. Castle is certainly at her best when her voice takes centre stage, a sympathetic honesty ensuing. ‘Is this a record about death or a record about writing?’ She wonders. ‘Hard to tell in the end.’ Yet as long as she sings, grim reaper will certainly stay at bay for a while.