King Jamsheed turned a terrifying experience into an epic poem through the tracks of Secret Winter. The album was written while they were trapped on a ship off the coast of Chile when the pandemic first hit. Through the tracks, they created a world where they could stay sane during the five weeks they were stuck on board. Each track offers a different part of the poem carrying listeners from winter frozen forests to blizzards and flying in the sun.
The personal touch of the album did not stop with the writing as Jamsheed also self-produced it. Through their music, you get a sense of who they are and the emotions they struggled with at the time of writing.
The album opens with the expansive swell of ‘Winter is Coming’. The arctic blast of synths is met with a darker tone that rises from the depths with a cinematic thrust of horns. King Jamsheed’s vocals have a traditional folk feel to them as they vibrate darkly through the snowy soundscape. The dark beats in the low levels of the track complement their vocals while the synth tones add a wintry swirl of snow to the music. It is an exquisite opening to the album full of artful arrangements and smooth vocals that really set the bar for what is to come.
‘The Snow Dragon’ carries the snowy soundscape of the opening track through but there is a mystical twirl to things. With a lighter touch, the music dances across your ears like the light reflected through icicles. The synths that zip into life are a little at odds with the overall atmosphere of the track but this adds an almost futurist edge to the music. The contrast between the soft ambient sounds and these synths brings a beautiful life to the melody.
Jamsheed’s vocals pull you in for an earthy ballad on ‘Child of the Darkness’. There is a warm beauty to this track that filters through with the piano line. Their vocals are emotive on the track and you can easily see this song being part of a musical. A stripped-back track, the acoustics of the piano bolsters the vocals for a powerful performance. Having such an emotional track coming after the synth tracks is wonderful as it fills you with a sense of intimacy and honesty. This track really lets you hear what they have to offer vocally and it is wonderful.
‘I Will Wait for You’ brings back a sense of darkness hidden under light. The whispering opening tones offer the darkness only to retreat when the light of the piano comes through. Jamsheed’s vocals warble with emotion and could so easily bring a tear to the eye. The twinkling high piano notes add a soft beauty to the music while the vocals call for someone who is not here. This is another song that would not be amiss on a soundtrack or as part of a musical. The vocal harmonisations later in the track are wonderfully executed with a layered approach.
The title track ‘Secret Winter’ brings a touch of the orchestra to the music with a mournful flow. This takes a slightly disjointed turn with disconnected popping tones. The layered orchestral flow with these beats creates a very interesting soundscape that is furthered by the vocals. Jamsheed’s vocals are a smooth path leading you through the winter of the track. The lyrics are steeped in sadness and melancholy as you are thrown into a winter of emotion full of coldness. If this song doesn’t make you feel emotional, you are already dead inside.
‘Ice Caves’ has a rolling drum that reminds you of military marches. This militaristic feeling is enhanced by the blast of horns. Jamsheed’s vocals have an ominous feeling that creeps across your shoulders. You are going to feel shivers run down your back as they send chills through you. If this track was part of a movie, it would be that moment when the main character moves toward confrontation while feeling nervous and anxious about coming back alive. This is a very powerful track that captures your imagination and fills your chest with the emotions of the song.
The next track, ‘If I Can’t Have You’, brings back the orchestral strings with a mournful gaze. There is something about the strings that you just get lost in as they hum through your ears. The pulsing synth that comes in meets the shimmering higher tones before the vocals pull you to ground. There is a hint of obsession in the track that subtly comes through in the music. The lyrics are packed with a call for someone which could be taken as being romantic but tows the line of obsession.
A darker soundscape is presented in ‘Snowfall’ with an almost oppressing vibration in the opening. This drops for a light and twinkling soundscape that makes you think of water dripping from melting ice. It is a very gentle sound that relaxes you for the rest of the song. This does not mean that the track is all lightness as those dark feelings from the opening make themselves known later in the track.
‘Here There’s Magic’ continues the contrast of darkness and light through the soundscape. The pulsing synths that made an appearance earlier in the album come back before fading to static and returning. Jamsheed’s vocals cut through the music as a plush thread that draws you through the soundscape. There is a curious sense to the song that has you feeling that things can get better if you just trust in it. The shuffling beats that come in add an earthy feeling to the music that touches something deep in your chest.
The acoustic guitar opening of ‘Everything Goes’ has a wonderful folky feeling to it. This lilting flow puts you at ease while the vocals have a rich depth to them. The vocals have an almost whispered quality to them as they gently weave between the guitar and piano tones. This is a song packed with awakening as your sights are turned to the good things in life from hope to love. The softness of the track enhances the awakening of hope resting in every note.
The album comes to a gentle rolling end with ‘Winter’s End’. The humming vocals make you think of Sunday mornings with snow gently drifting down. It is a wonderfully soft way to end the album with a dancing piano line, beautiful harmonisations and vivid lyricism. Everything that you love from the rest of the album shines on this track while you are softly let down to meet life.
King Jamsheed captivates you with the cinematic tones and sheer beauty of their debut album Secret Winter. Every track brings its own beauty from soft snowdrifts to a creeping sense of doom and marching drums. This is combined with their smooth vocals that wrap around the lyrics for a rich and vivid listening experience.