Jay Kayle is an acoustic singer-songwriter from Portland, Oregon. He recorded the five-track EP entitled Five in a friend’s basement and mixed it in his own studio apartment.
Five opens with “People & Places & Things.” This sweet little acoustic opener sets the tone for the entire EP. Staggered, soft acoustic chords lead in to a throbbing tambourine-laden beat and soothing, country vocals from Kayle. Kayle takes an emotive, slightly melancholic route to the music, though he mainly retains the upbeat sensibilities at the core of country and folk music. There is something intriguing about the combination of joyous melodies and slightly angst-fueled, painful lyrics. Kayle seems to be battling two different parts of his own mind here.
Track two entitled “Just Tomorrow” explores the interesting contrast between warm, soothing, hopeful sounds belonging to the folk and country genre of acoustic music with the nostalgic, melancholic and slightly down-beaten lyrics and musical leanings of emotive, pain-driven music. At times the progression of this track seeps into string-driven moments of sadness as Kayle sings that, “I want more than just tomorrow.” His vague message could be interpreted in numerous ways, but the underlying upbeat nature of the melody to this song, much like everything else, hints at a sense of hope. Still, the highlight of this track, in my personal opinion, was the unprecedented trumpet solo in the latter half of the track. There were some interesting moments of sonic uniqueness on this track that I had not expected from Kayle’s humble, acoustic beginnings.
“Cardinal Directions” is the first track in which the bittersweet melody seems to perfectly match Kayle’s vocals and lyrics. The soft, slow guitar sounds beaten - as if it is drifting; endlessly and hopelessly lost. Kayle beckons for someone to let him to “be aimless“ because “the best love is painless.” Undoubtedly, this less structured, pulled apart and softer track sounds as if it is his attempt at breaking free. He gives in and admits “you’re wrong and I’m wrong” but this seems to be a victorious moment for him. The crooning vocals at the end are simply stunning; the most beautiful moment of the EP, perhaps.
All in all, Jay Kayle has a great singing voice but an even more intriguing style of songwriting combined with sombre lyrical tendencies. His upbeat melodies surprisingly worked well when contrasted against less joyful lyrics, though it was “Cardinal Directions” with the downtrodden lyrics, vocals and melody which ended up becoming my favorite. This is a man whose music is definitely worth a listen.
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