Monday, April 23, 2012
Album review: The Body Wins by Sarah Jaffe
Although much has changed with Jaffe, it's all for the better.
The fact that Sarah Jaffe’s sophomore album comes out this week is something to be celebrated: It’s been two years since Suburban Nature was released. She’s filled her days with touring and releasing an intermediate record to satisfy her fans, while focusing on this album the whole time. If you’ve been able to catch many of her shows in the past year, there’s a chance you’ll know a good chunk of songs from the new record entitled The Body Wins. Jaffe has chewed on and tweaked her new work to perfection, and that determination and focus is what we love about the Denton singer.
Her style and voice have evolved from the whispered acoustic tracks fleshing out her freshman release. The Body Wins ushers in cool electric guitar melodies and sample-based beats that remind you that Jaffe is only 26. She’s branching out to a new genre filled with flowing violin, lilting piano, and sharp, concise tracks that end much too fast.
“Hooray for Love” is one of these. Lyrics from her previous single “A Sucker for Your Marketing” usher in the sexy riffs, and then a silky violin appears from the darkness about halfway thorough with a grace that softens the biting track.
The fresh record was produced by Dallasite John Congleton (St. Vincent, Walkmen, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah), who knows how to target specific talents and sounds and blend them together to create something unexpected and revitalizing. “Glorified High” is the brilliant first single off the record and is the perfect use of the fuzzy amps and quickened pace that cover the album. Jaffe’s soprano vocals are not chipped away; they’re bolder and more forceful than her previous whispered words. She’s added grit to the tracks that was always in her vulnerable lines but not always present in the instrumentation.
Although the violin is still there, the use of the cordial tool has changed. It comes in as a sassy backup to her haunting echoes, balancing the coolness of the darkened numbers like title track “The Body Wins.” The piano also has a new use in Jaffe’s world; in “Mannequin Woman,” the classic keys add a jazzy step to the finger-snapping tune, which doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the album.
Even the album art has taken a turn, as the cover displays a fashionable shot of Jaffe with an avant-garde hairstyle in a platinum blonde shade, complete with buzzed sides. Although much has changed with the smart singer, she hasn’t strayed from her quippy words or conceptual style. She’s just evolved into a more stylized artist who seems ready to jettison her comfortable approach.
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