Monday, September 10, 2012
Even Born Again - Sarah Jaffe
Even Born Again
Model Citizens Entertainment MCE 004
I picked this up at a show at the Mayan Theater where Jaffe opened for the New Multitudes show. I had never heard of her prior to the show, but she blew me away with her intensity and her strong voice. When I went to the merch table I was drawn to this album right away with its lovely artwork by Melanie Gomez. It is nice inside the sleeve as well with marbled vinyl and a cute insert with an illustration of the girl in the yellow dress on the cover. This six song mini-album was Jaffe's debut recording. It opens with "Even Born Again" which uses Christian language to analyze a love affair. The song begins quietly with Jaffe singing softly over an acoustic guitar and gradually builds in strength as she is joined by strings and a rhythm section. The "Black Hoax Lie" is about heartbreak and her aching vocal strongly conveys the emotion behind the song. It effectively uses strings to add feeling to the music. "Adeline" is just Jaffe and her guitar. The nakedness of the arrangement puts all the focus on Jaffe's throbbing vocal as she sings of a tormented love story. "Under" is a moody rocker in which Jaffe asserts her independence. The distortion in the vocal and the song's sustained tension really make it jump out at you. "Two Intangibles Can't Be Had" is another stripped down song that relies on Jaffe's voice to deliver its power. The lyrics examine ambivalence in a relationship in terms of being drawn to one's lover yet wanting to be alone too. "Backwards/Forwards" expresses similar ambivalence and confusion regarding a love affair. Sounds like the gal has issues. The song has a more complicated vocal structure with double tracking as well as a background vocal from Jonathan Clark who also adds a second guitar. There aren't a lot of singers around who hold my attention with such minimal arrangements and bare bones song structures, but Jaffe does it easily. There is a raw, almost gravelly quality to her voice that really grabs me and she excels at imbuing a song with tenderness and feeling. I value authenticity, edginess and emotional honesty in singer-songwriters and Jaffe has that in spades. Recommended to Lucinda Williams fans.