Record Review: Monarch EP
The Nashville artist known as Yours Truly, Jai only started releasing her own music into the world, and supplying hooks for her hip-hop peers, last year, and already the neo-soul singer-songwriter is working with dualities that you might expect to find in the music of a more seasoned artist.
On her EP Monarch, released this fall, she sings of many varieties of impatience: the kind stirred by immature lovers who disregard her conscientiousness; the kind that fuels her pursuit of elusive intimacy; the kind of restlessness that makes her swear off distractions in a search for self-knowledge.
But her vocal approach, on the other hand, is beguilingly unhurried.
Jai sings lines that curl and flutter into graceful vibrato. The layered vocal arrangements she improvised on the spot in the studio show an ear for parts that she began to develop growing up in a church tradition whose music is all a cappella. Her harmonies and vamps spread their tendrils across arresting intervals.
She fleshed out the sound with instrumentalists Jackson Thatcher and Greg Walton, who bring precise, clean-toned guitar, jazz-tinged keyboard and syncopated contemporary beats. And that backdrop makes room for another expansive quality; Jai has an easeful, elegant feel for blending the spiritual and the sensual.