J-Uke, as the name might suggest, has been playing ukulele for about three years, and after wanting to make music for a long time, finally set out to create her own debut album. And so, with help from a friend and her husband, she recorded and released The Hat Collective at her home studio in March of 2017.
The album’s opener entitled “Wishbone” begins with pulsing synthesizer sounds overlayed by J-Uke’s modified, warbly voice before plunging into the main sound of the song, a ukulele-led jam with organ riffs, raw vocals and harmonies, and steady percussion. “All Along” highlights are J-Uke’s technical skill on the ukulele, as well as the fullness of sound that the simple instrument can bring to the table.
With a bouncing rhythm, throbbing bass notes and horn riffs, “High Time” displays an excitement and energy that persists even through the minor chords of the song. Somewhat quieter and more subdued “Irons” features echoing strings in a beautiful, ethereal soundscape. Taking a jaunt into a more electronic side of music, “The Tension” employs electronic percussion along with layered ukulele and synthesizer sounds to create a lush, ever-changing tune.
In “Portents” sounds of nature introduce the listener to the song before it gradually builds into a energetic tune that still harbors a down-to-earth sound. Following, “Dememeter” is one of the most danceable tracks of the entire record, a song that blends folk elements with blues guitars and a steady beat.
Piano notes make an appearance in “Take A Day,” a piece with jagged rhythms and unexpected, nontraditional chord choices. J-Uke returns to her characteristic sound in “Aground” as the ukulele continues to take center stage among percussion and vocals. Overall, The Hat Collective embodies a unique sound that includes contributions from many instruments and musical styles, and listeners of many genres will find something to their liking in the music of J-Uke.
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