Something Left is Never Far is Jon Sheffield’s fifth full-length release, a jaunty, amiable canter through a variety of electronically generated moods. Sheffield makes a virtue of brevity: none of the 11 cuts lasts longer than five minutes, and several are shorter than three minutes. There’s a playful, childlike quality to much of the music here, due in part to the presence of Sheffield’s infant son Gabriel on two tracks. The boy’s sampled voice appears on “Call Me Smoky,” and he contributes musical samples of his own to “Snake (In Four Parts)” as well as talking endearingly to his dad about “snake poop.” Shaping and organizing the samples into a vibrant collage, Sheffield’s sense of fun is infectious.
The rest of the set is divided between upbeat, poppy activity and more drifting, textural pieces. Of the former, “Reaching Kisses” is a short, warm bust of energy, while “Soda” skips along irrepressibly on a brisk, sunny beat. Sheffield knows when to take things down, too, with a number of tracks that trade beats for softer, lo-fi textures. “Things We Leave Behind,” for instance, carries a hint of regret in its title that is borne out by the track’s wispy static cling. Meanwhile, “That What Hair Song” twinkles and turns like a gently rotating music box. “Have The Fun Now, OK?” combines the two approaches, with its simple, memorable keyboard riff ebbing away in favour of sparkling synth tones. Its quizzical title could serve as a summing up of the album’s benign encouragement towards a gentle form of hedonism.