There are times when we find ourselves wishing to pass time as fast and painlessly as possible. Finding myself in that situation recently, I downloaded Brisbane-born singer-songwriter Jarryd James’ latest release, High, for a five hour plane ride.
The 10-track album marks James’ US Debut. With five of the tracks coming from James’ non-US Debut, Thirty-One, the (fittingly) 31-year old has compiled a polished release that marks his readiness to win over listeners worldwide. Sure enough, High, proved itself to be a pleasant experience of emotional R&B with hints of fresh electronica interspersed with leisurely pop sounds that grow on you with each and every listen. Quite frankly, leaving the plane, I felt refreshed. Wherever you are while listening, this album will take you on a journey that can prove to be both aurally pleasing and emotionally-stirring, only not in that gut-wrenching, pretending-it’s-allergies kind of way, more of the daydreaming-and-completely-oblivious-to-your-surroundings kind of way.
With the help of some of the most intimidating names in the industry — Joel Little (Lorde, Broods) and Mikky Ekko (Rihanna, David Guetta), among others — James manages to put out a masterful product featuring trending sounds that are destined to be hits. What makes the singer-songwriter truly stand out is his soulful voice that shines through more prominently on certain tracks than others.
Jarryd James’ Strength is His Most Versatile Instrument
The album begins with “1000x.” The collaboration with massively talented electronic-pop duo Broods strikes all the right chords — James’ and Nott’s voice seamlessly blend together to create an airy, falsetto harmony. Arguably more in the style of Broods, this track strays from piano and guitar in favor of electronica.
“How Do We Make It,” is a gentle, soothing tune, nevertheless packed with emotion. James’ falsetto hits its peaks during the chorus as the Aussie laments over broken relationships. While not necessarily glaringly different in terms of his popular style, it is the passion behind James’ delivery that makes this track one of the highlights on the album.
“Claim My Love” and “Sure Love” are standouts on High, as they showcase the power of James’ lower range as well as the natural soulfulness of his voice. It is here that James really gives us a glimpse into all of the untapped potential in his most versatile instrument: his voice. James delivers impressive riffs over smoldering piano melodies that indicate clear jazz influences. In “Sure Love,” James soulfully croons, “Will you remember the way? / Laidback, sure love, those days , when you said my name,” delivering lovesick messages with a surprising suaveness.
Closing out with the title track, “High,” Jarryd James ends on a nostalgic note. James powers through this mellow ballad and lets his haunting falsetto take the spotlight once again. It is a fitting end to an album that perfectly encompasses his ability to create R&B driven primarily by its vocals.
High seems like just the beginning of an incredibly promising solo career for Jarryd James, who is sure to continue to develop his organic sound in order to find a perfect balance between popular music and his signature style.
James is currently on a U.S. tour with Broods.