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CD of The Week

Week of 9/02/19

    Jay Som - Anak Ko (Polyvinyl)

    There is no doubting the musical prowess of Jay Som on their latest record, Anak Ko. The project of California native Melina Mae Duterte, Jay Som has made waves amongst music scene with her unique brand of dreamy and textured pop music. Anak Ko is the follow-up to Duterte's critically acclaimed 2017 record Everybody Works. It is evident across this record that Duterte has stories to tell, and does it so gracefully across nine lush and atmospheric tracks.

    The overall presentation of the album is what makes it truly unique. The tone of the songs ranges from soft and swingy to something quite stern and ominous at times. Tracks like "Tenderness" exemplify some of the more soft and soulful elements of the album. The song features a waltzing drum beat underneath some fingerpicked chords that are reminiscent of an old R&B record. Couple these aspects with Duterte's beautiful vocal harmonies and the end product results in a wonderfully crafted soundscape.

    In contrast to these types of songs, some compositions tend to veer to a more eerie and morose. On tracks like "Peace Out", you can hear Duterte croon the lyrics "No hard, No hard feelings" on top of some dissonant-sounding instrumentation. These songs tend to start out minimal, then progressively build into something dreamy, yet a bit foreboding.

    Another shining aspect of this album is its consistency across the board. The compositions of each song are very diverse and never fall flat. The instrumentation on songs like "Peace Out" starts out with a catchy guitar riff and swiftly transitions into swirling electric pianos. The dynamics of this record are really what makes it flow and keeps things exciting.

    The album concludes with two of the most powerful tracks on the record. The title track "Anak Ko" is one of the more somber tracks on the album, channeling Duterte's innermost influence of The Microphones. The overall atmosphere of this track evokes a feeling of nostalgia but also uncertainty that keeps the listener engage to hear what's next. The album closes out with "Crown," a guitar pop track that easily feels like it's wrapping up everything we've experienced on this record. Anak Ko is a very ambitious follow-up to Jay Som's previous work that capitalizes on what makes her so great – pure and honest songwriting.

    Jay Som returns to Philadelphia on October 29th at The Foundry at The Fillmore.
    Review by Matty Barlow

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