J.M. Clifford Stays Present in New Song ‘The Reservoir’ [Exclusive Premiere]
J.M. Clifford is focused on the present — and all of the emotions it brings with it — in his new song "The Reservoir." The calming, quiet track is premiering exclusively via The Boot; press play below to listen.
Over a simple acoustic guitar and finger-picked strings, bare-bones percussion and a gradually growing fiddle line, Clifford sets a peaceful nighttime scene: "The moon is a beacon in the sky / Past the pines and through the sycamores / We can see for miles and miles ...," he sings in the first verse.
"Cool water on my skin / You and I go swimming with the stars," Clifford adds in the second verse. "It seems to easy to begin / Right here where we are."
The inspiration for "The Reservoir," Clifford explains, lives in something his mother told him after her Stage IV breast cancer diagnosis. "I remember we were talking one night," the artist recalls, "and she told me about how she had 'invited cancer to tea.'"
"I knew she was speaking metaphorically, but at the time, I thought it was still the strangest damn thing I’d ever heard her say," continues Clifford, adding that it was only much later that he begun to fully understand what she meant: "There is a way to sit with the whole spectrum of emotions — joy, pain, grief, wonder — and invite all of that stuff in without pulling it closer or pushing it away. You can just show up and be present for whatever the moment gives you."
"The Reservoir" is one of 10 songs on Clifford's debut album, On a Saturday Night. The singer and songwriter wrote the record — which taps into both a recent divorce and his mom's death, as well as other struggles and losses — while quarantined in his Brooklyn, N.Y., apartment during the COVID-19 pandemic; he then recorded the project in the Bunker Studio, located in Brooklyn's Bushwick neighborhood, with Ron Pope and Nicole Cosme as his co-producers.
As a child, Clifford struggled in school and with making friends, but used music to connect. He spent time in a number of bands while in college and after, but chose a career as an inner-city elementary school music teacher of the possibility of a life on tour. The discovery of a thriving bluegrass scene at Sunny's Bar in Brooklyn's Red Hook neighborhood led the artist to spend more time in that community, and to both a new job with the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and his debut album.
On a Saturday Night is due out on Aug. 27. Visit JMCliffordMusic.com for more details.