I fell in love with Jaylis’ voice from the moment I heard her earthy tone grace “Flowers,” the first song on her album Precious as the Diamonds. Smooth and sultry, young yet knowledgeable, it is the integral thread that weaves together this stunning album. Some songs, like this one, have a lighter sound - for example, the brightly toned title track “Precious as the Diamonds” sparkles and shines, as it seems to usher in the second part of the record. The background twinkling enhances the atmosphere and the drum keeps your shoulders dipping.
On the other side, a lot of the songs are far deeper and seem to represent an older perspective on younger themes. A great example is the message in “Teen,” which seems to have been especially written for adolescents, based on just the tone and lyrical content alone. Add a thumping bass and the hollow boom of an organ, and you’re presented with a song that artfully blends a soft touch with a mature sound.
“Maybe” is another one that exhibits the thoughtful side of this album. The supporting guitar riff is particularly contagious, and I like the deep undertones of this song. The bass really fleshes out another face of the character of this song, prancing with the guitar much as the dual vocals in “Break” did. And “Pain,” at first listen, sounds like it’s going to be an oddly upbeat song, but there’s something in the cut of Jaylis’ voice that makes it sound much sharper than it appeared at first glance (even with that tingling triangle in the background, a sound that gave a whole different effect before). The lyrics tell a compelling story that support the sound of the song and make this a well-rounded song.
Jaylis displays an impressive vocal range, too, not only in pitch but also in singing style. “In the sky” is a wistful, soft song in which she hits some high notes that grabbed me right in the pit of my stomach (in a good way). It’s introspective but optimistic at all the right times. The tempo kicks up a notch with about a minute left in the song, and it’s a surprising treat. I suspect a small part of that portion’s success lies in the fact that the song was so quiet and sweet before. Her variation in style really shines in “Tim,” as she rattles through words with astonishing speed.
Finally, some of the songs were just plain enjoyable to listen to, so much so that I found myself wishing they were longer. The overall theme of “USA” is a lot of fun, but the chorus has an upbeat sultry sound that really caught my attention. But the kicker is, I thought that no fewer than three songs were my favorite until I heard “My hand,” a super soulful ballad that closes out the album. Everything in this song was perfect: the bass, her voice, the crisp yet simple percussion and the background organ tying it all together with gentle piano chords. I could have probably listened to an entire hour of that song alone.
I found myself moving through every song of the album, and that’s probably the best way to describe this as a whole: music that quite literally moves you. Jaylis has the kind of voice that isn’t easily forgotten, and I would be surprised if she didn’t garner a sort of cult following based on that alone. The woodsy guitar and deeply plodding bass could function well on their own too, but when mixed with that voice create a real force to be reckoned with. Fans of soft folk music with energy will dig this!
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