Lake Jons doesn’t stop. The folk-rock project of Helsinki-based Jooel Jons released its self-titled debut album last year to fanfare from major Finnish radio stations, inclusion in Spotify playlists around the world, and a set at the incredible Finnish event known as Flow Festival (to which tickets are currently on sale). “Circle” isn’t from that album — it’s Jons’ second new single of 2019, and it came out just last Friday, a bit over two months into what seems like it will be quite a productive year for him.
“Circle” offers a crowd-rousing, singalong-inducing update on the sound that first brought Lake Jons to prominence. The track’s communal nature stems not from the played-out stomp-and-shout combos heard so often in mainstream folk music; it instead derives from the song’s simultaneous ascent towards some higher place and feted descent before it can reach its true peak. Even when Jons’ voice reaches its most fervent highs and his guitars squelch with their most acidic growls, “Circle” sounds as though it’s striving for an experience without ever reaching it.
And that’s precisely the point. The story Jons tells across “Circle” is one of a wanderer, a person who upturns his life and leaves his home to find new meaning. In the song’s introductory moments, Jons’ main character begins his ascent towards that mysterious thing he seeks: “I wasn’t ready for the tug/so I traveled to the sea,” this narrator recalls as Jons’ humming builds to the song’s gorgeous, chill-inducing climax.
Here, tiny crests of synth magically enshroud Jons as he sings some of the track’s vital lines. “I look at the boy who…still seems ashamed about growing old…full of ideas” are among the words that can be extracted from Jons’ often indecipherable but deeply resonant singing. His lyrics imply that, although the song’s narrator physically escaped, he never quite got away mentally. It’s almost as though this character steadily moved towards some sort of peak, and felt all the excitement that comes with that, but ultimately never quite hit the zenith — just as “Circle” does musically: The joys come from going on the journey, not reaching the endpoint.