Jay Som's Everybody Works is as intimate as it is expansive - WXPN
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Jay Som | photo by Cara Robbins | courtesy of the artist

By this point, we’re more than a few years deep into the advent of the digital auteur, and in 2017, it’s showing no signs of slowing down. As much as this trend has empowered talent to operate outside the system, it’s also enabled a vast ocean of self-produced mediocrity. Melina Duterte’s Jay Som project is most certainly of the former, though, and on her new album Everybody Works, she glides clear over that ocean in a glistening, DIY sailboat. It’s out next Friday, March 10th, but you can stream it now via NPR First Listen.

After hearing Tame Impala’s Innerspeaker for the first time, I was shocked to learn all the instruments had been played by Kevin Parker. Its natural, in-the-moment feel and detailed interplay implied multiple minds at work, but to every indie rock hopeful’s dismay, it was just one dude. I get a very similar feeling listening to Everybody Works. From the gorgeous, shimmering opener “Lipstick Stains” to the bleary-eyed shoegaze of “1 Billion Dogs”, this thing is impressively produced, managing to tie a wide range of tones and genres into one cohesive package.

Both sonically and emotionally, Duterte’s earlier work leaned towards the darker side of the spectrum, but much of Everybody Works sounds downright optimistic. The slinky, chorused guitars all over the record are bright and chiming, and the bouncy grooves on tracks like “One More Time Please” and “Baybee” feel lighthearted and carefree. With that being said, the tracklist is not without its moments of emotional intensity. Both “The Bus Song” and “Behead” start off grippingly intimate, while tracks like “Take It” and the title track tackle depression head-on. The record culminates with the expansive, seven and half minute “For Light”, ending just how it began with an arresting soundscape.

If you want to catch Jay Som live, she’ll be coming to Boot & Saddle on Friday, March 31st with The Courtneys. For tickets and more information, head over to XPN’s Concert Calendar.

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