In a Dark Room, a Single Candle is Lit in Memoriam for Those Whose Lives Were Incomplete
2018 / Scott Lawlor
Review by Kathy Parsons
In a Dark Room, a Single Candle is Lit in Memoriam for Those Whose Lives Were Incomplete is the third ambient album in a trilogy by Scott Lawlor. The series began when Scott’s younger brother, Joe, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and was at stage four of the disease. The music explores the search for answers and the strength to get through such a crisis. Look Unto the Heavens (the first album) was released in July 2017. The second album, Transition, was composed very shortly after Joe’s death and describes some of the feelings and experiences Scott had during that time. It was released in December 2017. This third album is an expression of the emotional aftermath that such a traumatic event has on those who remain - grief, disbelief that the event ever happened, and the long process of healing. It was released in May 2018. As I mentioned in my review of Transition, I sincerely hope that by putting such intense and personal experiences to music, Scott was and is able to derive some of the healing comfort that I’m sure many others will receive from this music.
Although this album contains six individual pieces, there are no breaks between them, offering 74 minutes of uninterrupted music. This album is much darker and more despairing than the previous two and reflects that the full impact of a loss such as this is often delayed for months or even years. In Scott’s words: “Grief is a strange animal, it comes and goes unexpectedly and unpredictably, one moment washing me to the depths of a bottomless ocean of unrelenting tears and then, a cognitive denial that says ‘this didn't happen because I wasn't in the same room he was in when he died after taking his last rasping breath.’”
The six tracks all have very descriptive titles and range in duration from just under five minutes to twenty-seven minutes. The album begins with “If you watch, you will see the hand of God putting the stars back in their skies one by one,” an expression of deep grief with choral voices (no lyrics) and ambient orchestral sounds. “If tears could build a stairway” expresses profound loss and a sense of unreality - the numbness that follows a crisis. “Your end, which is endless, is as a snowflake dissolving in the pure air” adds the piano to the ambient strings and voices, expressing a strong feeling of solitude. “Tears are the natural bleeding of an Emotional Wound” exchanges the piano for the organ, going into a pitch black expression of despair and loss. “Unable are the loved to die. For love is immortality” offers fragile feelings of hope. “Closed eyes, heart not beating, but a living love” is the 27-minute sixth track and is a bit more orchestral, although still very ambient. Emotions gradually flow from one to another with subtle changes as healing begins ever so slowly.
Scott Lawlor has created a monumental work with these three albums. It is intensely personal and yet expresses feelings that are universal. Through this music, Joe Lawlor’s spirit and the love that his family and others had and have for him will live on and continue to touch many lives. All three of the albums in the series are available from Bandcamp.
July 10, 2018