Album Review: Everybody Works – Jay Som
Every once in a while, I’ll stumble upon an album that strongly resonates with the situation the album finds me in; it can be through the emotions expressed, the lyrical themes, or simply the sound of the music. And as I inch closer and closer to graduating and entering the real world, I’ve been experiencing the existential dread and angst that all early twenty-somethings go through at this point in their lives. Melina Duterte, who writes and performs under the name Jay Som, is no different. As a 22-year-old songwriter, she’s experiencing similar emotions of anxiety, depression, and uncertainty, all of which she documents on her debut album Everybody Works. Duterte’s hopeful perspective on such topics and the expansive and diverse set of songs she uses to explore them make for an album that’s a pleasure to listen to from start to finish.
This angst exhibits itself in tracks like the jazzy stand-out “One More Time, Please,” which details Duterte’s internal struggles with a romantic interest, or on “Remain,” where she explores the feeling of being in a relationship that has hit the point of no return. “Take It” sees Duterte fighting against the pity party that so often find ourselves in when steeped in the throes of depression. She fights against it, expressing the desire to “replace [her] sad with happy / and take it out for a spin,” and later joking “if my memory serves me right / you were easy to break” when her depression threatens to take over again.
The album’s sprawling closer “For Light” lets the listener know that not all of life is bad. “I’ll be right on time / Open the blinds for light / Won’t forget to climb” Duterte repeats toward the end of the song, acknowledging we need to be aware of the bright spots in light, and climb—work—toward those things when they present themselves. Everybody has something they’re working through, hence the album’s title, Everybody Works, and Duterte believes that we will all work through these struggles eventually.
Everybody Works is among the more sonically diverse yet cohesive projects I’ve heard this year. Duterte acknowledges and embraces her eclectic songwriting but added in an interview with Pitchfork, “you know it’s me” (1). Indeed, this is the case on Everybody Works, as there’s something embedded in the midst of the tracks—some jangly, some jazzy, and some fuzzy—that signifies it as a Jay Som track. Perhaps it’s the lushness and layering of the instrumentation; perhaps it’s the emotions and insecurities expressed; perhaps it’s something more—something that defies description. It may be a combination of any one of those three, but whatever it is, it makes for a very good album.
FAVORITE TRACKS: The Bus Song; One More Time, Please; Baybee; (BedHead); For Light
LEAST FAVORITE TRACK: 1 Billion Dogs
(1) – taken from an interview with Pitchfork.com (“All of my songs are so different, but you know it’s me. I just don’t like staying in one place at all.” http://pitchfork.com/features/rising/10017-jay-soms-hard-working-dream-pop/ )