Performing under the name Jay Som, Oakland, California-based multi-instrumentalist and singer Melina Duterte isn’t really set on one main genre. Her sound encompasses elements of many different sub-genres that stem from rock and pop, with influences from artists such as Tame Impala, Yo La Tengo, Pixies, and Carly Rae Jepsen. Her latest album, Everybody Works, is proof that Jay Som is able to combine many different ideas and images into one solid coherent album.
The first track, “Lipstick Stains,” pretty much sets the tone of the album, putting listeners into a dream state as they enter the world of Jay Som. The instrumental is executed well with hypnotizing dynamics. Vocals are also heard in this track and while the performance itself is great, the vocal stem doesn’t seem to be together with the instrumental and it’s put out too in front. The intro track also ends a little too abruptly for my liking so I don’t feel ready heading into the next track.
The album breaks into a rock tone with the second track, “The Bus Song,” a moderately-paced song with a simple rhythm and beat as well as a melodious chorus. Some instrumental stems sound out of place so more balancing in the mix is needed. However, Jay Som doesn’t fail in delivering an authentic and likeable style with “The Bus Song” early on in the album.
Jay Som’s soft and mesmerizing vocal delivery carries over through the cool third track, “Remains,” which features subtle synths to add a pleasurable synthpop throwback feel. The fourth track, “4 Billion Dogs,” picks things up with a more punk flair, lead by noisy and distorted guitars and drums. The catchy vocal melody should do enough to keep listeners hooked on with the music. The song also features a guitar solo that sounds out of tune for the most part. This might not sound pleasurable for some listeners but at the same time it’s a part of Jay Som’s unconventional songwriting and it’s an element other listeners will also appreciate.
“One More Time, Please” settles the album down with a chilled-out sound that has a relaxing instrumental and a melodious guitar solo to go along with it. “Baybee” carries the momentum over, bearing a more apparent 80’s pop sound. “(BedHead)” pleasurably starts sluggishly that evolves over time to deliver an overall calming sound for listeners in a lazy mood. “Take It” picks the album back up with a feel-good sound, while “Everybody Works” stands out with a defining sound, consisting of catchy melodies and a simple, strong beat. The album ends with “For Light,” a seven and a half minute song with the same hypnotizing sound that began Everybody Works. The looping lyrics of “I’ll be right on time / Open blinds for light / Won’t forget to climb” will stick to listeners and allow them to simply reflect on the music.
Overall, Everybody Works is a fantastic work of art by Jay Som. The variety is great and her musicality is impressive. Of course, an improved mixing and production would really make this album shine out of this world. With that aside, Jay Som’s confidence in taking risks and delivering an unconventional style that screams “Jay Som!” makes Everybody Works a likeable and enjoyable album.
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