Albums can be difficult to rate sometimes, and oftentimes my rating on it will change slightly over time. Last year saw the release of a great Breaths album called Lined in Silver, and I really liked it for its varied tones and interesting passages. He is back with another one quite quickly, and after hearing it, I know exactly why. It is called Though life has turned out nothing like I imagined, it is far better than I could have dreamt, and it releases today, January 21st.
Breaths is a one-man project from Richmond, Virginia, USA. That man is Jason Roberts. As far as I can tell, he plays or programs everything on this album. It is truly a one-person work.
On the debut from 2021, I noted that Breaths was all about the ambient and beautiful doomgaze genre. There were hints of post-hardcore and maybe even emo, but most of the music centered on the contrast between heavy riffs and hazy atmospheres. And though that description still fits to some degree, this album is quite different, and I think it is because of the lyrical content.
Though life… is a very personal album. If you check out the tracks on YouTube, you will notice that each one has a different picture with it, namely one with Jason as a child with someone else each time. You’ll see his entire family it seems, and most tracks on this album are respectively named after mental representations of family members. So, you’ll see “The Elders”, “The Patriarch”, “The Matriarch”, and so on. This has a deep effect on the music as it changes to fit Jason’s memories and relationship with each of them.
Overall, I find this album to be heavier and rawer than the previous. It can feel unrelenting at times, whether in its heaviness or even in its meandering ambience in certain portions, and it definitely leans more into the harsh vox. Luckily, Jason has a great clean voice and a searing harsh voice, so that doesn’t detract from the experience.
I’m not sure it is appropriate for me to point out favorites in such a highly private record. I will say that I like how immediately heavy, and yet melodic, the opener “The Elders” is, as well as “The Tormented”. I like how complex, transitioning, and varied “The Patriarch” is; it has some major highlight moments throughout its runtime. I also like how dynamic and thunderous “The Empty” feels.
I think the “best” two tracks are “The Matriarch” and “The Wayward”, however. These close the album. The former is super heavy and emotional, raw to the core. I like especially the faint, subtle melody that fades in as the second half progresses. It feels almost spiritual. And, then, of course, there is “The Wayward”, a song about Jason’s older brother. I don’t know the story, but it sounds like he passed away after many years of Jason looking up to him. The emotions on this song are decidedly mixed, as he certainly misses his brother and wishes him peace, but also wants reasons for why he lived the way he did—the way that led to his death. For this track, I can’t help but cry when I hear it. It is so tender, and I can relate to the feelings of pride and admiration for an older brother, especially since my own older brother had a brush with death through cancer recently. It is a hard track to hear, and will certainly be a favorite this year for me.
I don’t know how to feel about this album overall. It is done very well, and the emotions are incredibly deep. Jason doesn’t hold back at all. The music isn’t as intriguing, diverse, or mysterious as the debut, but the lyrics and feelings this album offers almost make up for that. This is certainly an album made for days of depression and screams of the soul. I appreciate it for that.
Find Breaths online: