Mervyns is a population of one, that one being Jess Kelly. This is a VERY fresh off the vine project for Kelly and I have to say I am over the moon and completely smitten. The album is Everything Must Stay and its sound is soft but there is a lot of story and depth in this airy and fresh acoustic guitar aesthetic. I will admit, this is one of those genres that I feel gets easily flooded with congruent tricks and plays. Kelly rose above that hurdle with such effortless ease. I am not by nature an easy listening kind of gal. I am often categorized as grumpy, cantankerous and downright evil, but for this album I was happy to retract my claws and horns.
Everything Must Stay stands on three solid pillars. One, Kelly has a voice that can unwind even the tightest knot in my back. A very conversational and genuine performance style. Pillar number two, those hands know their way around a guitar. Intricate, expertly layered guitar work here, just a pure joy to listen to in such an intimate way. Pillar number three, the details, the things you almost don't notice that make such a big difference. This album was self produced by Kelly and it sounds so luxe and inviting.
"That's The Boy" kicks things off for this album, and it's a dreamy ditty with stellar lyrics. The guitar work here is many levels above what I typically get for albums in this genre. The piano is also a lovely touch and helped lift this track up to a more polished level.
"Softer Than Any Touch” is a foot tapper. The romance here is palatable, but it's not without gravity. There is a genuine conversation happening in the lyrics that made me smile. Coming out swinging with a delightful sense of insecurity and self scrutiny is "Why Do I Even Like You." The message here is one that is so accessible to me and to so many others I imagine. Again we get that piano and it just wooed me completely. Track number four is "Sure" and we're back in dreamland with charming vocal additives. The song is very lo-fi and lends itself to let the listening drift into their own thoughts. There is a motion that comes with it, almost like a sensation of open water waves beneath you. For the gentle finale, you get "One Wish" which is given a great percussion treatment and samples that amplify the dream aspect with the temptation to dance.
The arrangement alone on this album is spectacular and just so damn thoughtful. I think that's the underlying theme here, thoughtfulness. So many tiny details all adding up to a distinctive experience. So who do I think should be giving this album a shot? Damn near everyone I think needs a shot of what this album is serving. With a world on fire, I love that Kelly is out there making an album like this. Someone needs to see the bright side or none of us will.
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