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“Just Like a River” by Jenny Berkel: Lovely, Free-Flowing Folk

JNB

In “Just Like A River,” Berkel experiences a ripple on the still surface of her life, caused by an intriguing new face. The song feels like a meditative reflection, in which she seeks to reach and merge herself with this fated connection.

In a press release, Berkel explained, “’Just Like a River’ started as a guitar part. Shortly before going into the studio, I wrote a poem exploring the openness and non-linear nature of time, which became the lyrics for this song. I wanted it to feel open and expansive but also close and for the listeners to feel themselves within that space.”

You sound just like a river, something to dive into 

Into you 

This line’s simple metaphor captures the range of emotions that accompany falling for someone new – and that first spark of hungry curiosity. Berkel has a background in poetry, and I think her ability to paint a picture with few words is especially touching in “Just Like A River.” I find that some songwriters lean more towards intimate confession, while others prioritize poetic language, which can occasionally come across as vague. Berkel manages to strike the balance, capturing intimate feelings through a beautifully abstract yet crystal clear lens. 

The song has an intimate quality – as a listener, you can feel that Berkel’s work is close to her heart. This air of solitude is also felt in the music video, which features clips from Berkel’s sparse home adorned with books and greenery, as well as her beaming golden retriever. Interspersed with still scenes from nature and bathed in a soft pink glow, the video compliments the song’s themes of reflection and seclusion. I especially loved one shot that juxtaposes the summer and winter sun side by side, creating a striking parallel. This is fitting since the song explores polarizing motifs – closeness and expansion, solitude and falling in love. 

Instrumentals in “Just Like A River” merge together to resemble sunlight dancing on water, as finger plucked guitar, strings, and piano all flow as one. This creates an mesmerizing effect, while Berkel’s voice floats over the sparkling accompaniment. During my first listen, I immediately noticed the rich and clear tone of her voice, which gives the folk song an almost classical feel. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this track from Berkel’s most recent project, titled These are the Sounds Left From Leaving. While the song is about falling in love, it also has an air of solitude and quiet reflection. Berkel manages to strike a unique balance between opposing themes, and the effect is an entrancing track that embodies both the stillness and the gentle flow of life.  

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ONCE A WEEK.

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