My review of Jarryd James’ first single Do You Remember? was one of the first articles I had written on this site. From that moment, his name stuck with me as one of the artists I needed to keep an eye on.
As I learnt more about him, I found that he was only starting to break out in the music industry now, at age 30. He was not only breaking into the industry, he was absolutely killing it. His impressive single climbed the ARIA charts, he sold out two national tours and was blasted across all forms of radio. It’s clear that Australia loves him. He showed me that passion and dedication can keep you going, even when your path doesn’t seem as clear as you’d like it to be. Good opportunities will come when you least expect them.
Now, I am proud to have the pleasure of reviewing his debut album Thirty One.
The trumping heartbeat that pumped throughout the opening track Sell It To Me encouraged me to plug in my headphones. I suggest you do as well. Close your eyes and the sounds of pure serenity will flood your ears. It’s as if you’re floating in a pool of water. While his singles are great, you can already tell he has left some of his best work for the album.
Underneath is another example of this. The words dictate a story that can only be described as the final phase before giving it up. The programmed sounds, the percussion and guitar are a unique base, keeping you interested when there are no words. This song will have you hooked as you digest all elements of the track, from his uneven vocal pace, to the surprise guitar solo at the end.
This album made me truly realise how much soul James possesses. Sure Love will crash its way into your heart, with a strong RnB-inspired sound. As you listen to the lyrics, you are able to hear him harmonise with himself, as his normal tone and falsetto combine. The part where the music stops and James sings a cappella is especially magical. Do You Remember? follows on from here. I’ve already told you what I think of it. I will never get sick of hearing this song.
Undone is a ballad of sadness and raw emotion. It’s the point in the mourning process following a broken relationship where all you can do is sit and reflect on what you’ve lost. He concludes the story with “I don’t know how to say this,” which is where all the things you want to say to the person are reduced to silence. The RnB twist is back for Regardless, which features Julia Stone. Her vocals blend well with James’, while the sensual and passionate atmosphere of the song will leave you feeling tingly.
There is then a short interlude. James’ distorted voice is difficult to understand. The sound of a ticking clock runs through musical bursts, and when you look at the album title, you’ll see the significance. It’s in reference to James’ age this year, and as well as the fact that in December he would outlive his father, who passed away at 30 years of age. Life is like a time bomb that continues to tick. This Time has a few interesting sound effects in it as well. There is something that sounds like someone flicking through a stack of pages, which was a cool addition. He sung about the love he is about to lose with beautiful harmonies and his signature tone. The violins ensure that the song closes in a light and unique way.
There has been a running theme of heartbreak throughout the album. Giving It Up seems to give it a different spin by suggesting that it wasn’t always a choice. Lyrics like “we could run away” support the idea that there was something else causing Jarryd and his significant other to “give it up”. It echoes the sound of Do You Remember?, with a different tone. It’s more sad than edgy to portray a longing emotion. The Way You Like It is an interesting one, because I interpret it as a story about his struggles with music. “Your heart’s not in it” sounds like a rejection from a music rep or even a self-criticising thought. It really puts all the things he’s said about almost giving up music into perspective.
His second single Give Me Something was up next, and it’s just as fun and soulful as the first time I heard it. Ending the album on a High note (sorry), it’s a love story that looks toward the brighter aspects of the relationship, backed by a beating drum and gorgeous pianos.
The album was wonderful, as I hoped it would be. It had a few surprising twists that kept me interested and shone with the uniqueness that has showed us who Jarryd James really is.
Thirty One is available now via Universal Music Australia.