Like being smothered to death with candyfloss.
Stewart Turner 2007
You've heard of the break-up song... well, the latest darling of the New York 'Anti-Folk' scene Jaymay (real name Jamie Seerman) has upped the stakes and written an entire break-up album.
The ten songs of debut long-player, Autumn Fallin', detail a wintertime love affair, which begs the question of whether she can write about anything else, and if not, whether she's busy dating again in hopeful anticipation of making that ‘difficult second album’ a little less difficult.
With a style that is ostensibly something akin to contemporaries like Feist and Laura Veirs; sweet, heartfelt vocals and strumming folksy guitars, albeit with a straighter edge, in some ways it sounds a little to contrived, often at pains to make sure we're oh-so-aware that this is a special, artsy, New York-kind of a relationship she’s singing about, something a bit more important than usual, something messily awash with typewriters, songwriters, poetic drunks and the like.
Things tend to work best when the instrumentation is fuller. Piano and strings-laden "Blue Skies" is a timeless-sounding triumph, and album opener "Grey Or Blue", with its cutesy, 'first-blossoming-of-love' lyric isn't far off either. "You'd Better Run" is an ambitious, ten-minute chugging waltz of a song, all warm Hammond organ flourishes and plink-plonk toy pianos. It doesn't so much as offer a passing nod to Blonde On Blonde-era Bob Dylan as kiss it on both cheeks and have a half-hour chinwag.
The weakest song, the heavily stylised, jazz-tinged "Hard To
Say", is insufferable. Imitating a trumpet with your voice
is never a good idea, and the stench of kookiness is overwhelming. At times like this, the album sounds on the verge of becoming a parody of what the rest of the world expects a young, female New Yorker with an acoustic guitar to sound like.
Autumn Fallin’ signs off with "You Are The Only One I Love", perhaps a perfect benchmark for assessing whether you'll love Jaymay or hate her. She’s produced an album with genuinely amazing moments, but the overall effect is a bit stifling, something like being smothered to death with candyfloss.