With the regular rhythm of a ticking clock and the emotional ambiguity endemic to inward reflection, Sara Jackson-Holman walks listeners through her own memory in “For Albert,” and it’s a place full of twists, turns, and demons. Though Jackson Holman intended her second album, Cardiology, to be reflective of her own personal journey, “For Albert” strikes a chord that resonates deeply within everyone who’s experienced a loss.
Written in memory of her grandfather (whose middle name was Albert), the song is really an homage to an homage, using the opening motive from Beethoven's Für Elise as its backbone. It quickly strays, however, from the melancholy of the original with the addition of a simple yet driving backbeat, orchestral accents, and interwoven, carnivalesque melodies on piano and harpsichord. The resulting feeling is one of childlike fear and displacement: like wandering lost and parentless through a carnival after dark, like waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of your music box when you know no one could have turned it on. “From my highest high to my lowest low/ Oh the hardest part was always letting go,” Jackson Holman chants, holding “go” with a ghostly quiver in a move of clever text painting. It is perhaps here that the genius lies: By translating her grief into such an innocent sense of loss, she conveys beautifully the role her grandfather played to her as well as the difficulties of moving on.
SEE IT: Jackson Holman will be presenting the anatomy of her heart to celebrate the release of Cardiology at the Doug Fir Lounge tonight. 9 pm. $10.