Jay Leighton – Polaroids and Stills
It seems that Jay Leighton not only knows how to create landscapes beautifully painted in pink and blue in terms of music, but also offers more than meets the eye and delivers an album with strong harmonies of welfare and breath-taking lyrics, all bundled and called Polaroids and Stills.
This is Jay Leighton’s debut album and includes 9 songs permeated with mellow, soft and pop styles (to a certain extent), yet interrupted by interesting elements such as piano, violins or little twists that amazingly come in the shape of words, as a manner to transcend the whole happiness scenario.
And so the album begins. Our very first polaroid’s title is ‘Night and Day’, violins included: “I’m not trying to save the world /I’m just trying to save myself’” is the strong statement this song brings to our senses.
There’s a whole world built with stereotypes and it seems Jay Leighton came to break the whole deal in his own way. I refer to music stereotypes, which are made of nothing but well-defined patterns. There’s always certain comfort when it comes to selection of harmonies and composition, styles, voice, presence, it’s like our ears and (consequently our) minds are conditioned to expect certain topics when listening to specific tunes, and what ‘Night and Day’ would bring to my mind is relevant to true love, good things happening around, unconditional welfare, but instead we’ve got confusion, personal crises or just a breakout, a spoken picture of the point that leads to several paths and we don’t know where to go from there.
Then the second song comes, ‘We won’t stay long.’ When listening inattentively, this would also sound like a song of love, teenagers’ love to be more specific: fantasies, sometimes wishful thinking, just to come again to self-deceit. Lyrics, just loud and clear, go further this time and talk about moments that come to fade, a reminder that everything is nothing but temporary, “these polaroids we take / polaroids and stills in boxes on the shelf“. I really enjoy the layers Jay Leighton created for this song: electric guitar, violins on the background, all ready to give the right stress to lyrics.
‘Everything you love’, the third track. I love the piano line: simple, yet powerful. At this point of the album I get the impression that the whole concept and creation focuses on words. I’m happy too because lyrics are perfectly audible and understandable even when English is not my native tongue. The title would be quite romantic, however, the key sentence of this song is “the more we find out / the less we understand”. This is a big warning sing to tell that a title is not the whole truth for the universe a song can bring to life.
Another clever track fills our ears, and this is ‘One more day’, one of my favorite tracks. The combination of acoustic guitars and violins delivers a nostalgic atmosphere filled with words of breakup and farewell, and best wishes in the middle.
The next song includes one of my favorite, yet tragic sentences in this album: “we’re just casualties of what’s been before“. This song is ‘The Sea’. The words are now wrapped in a dreamy, but heavy and regretful atmosphere at the same time created through discrete drums, piano, and violins; I love the piano in this too, as it quietly becomes the sound of a broken heart, and moments that are doomed to become part of our past. No more future between two people as parting ways is the present.
‘June.’ What would be of our lives in June? “We all need a place to call our home /let’s all take pride on what we do“. This time drums take the lead and seem the basic structure upon which the whole song is supported, a heart pounding that would dare us to be happy (after all the tragedy and confusing atmosphere the tracks behind conveyed); after all, present is all we have.
`Happiness and Good Intentions’ is a rather harsh title too, since music would manage to convey disappointment, a very fluid and natural disappointment as a breeze touching our faces. Barely more than three minutes to make me think of a moment on my own, in the middle of a cold landscape, nightfall, after experiencing how does it feel when someone tries to take my pride away and tear it apart, mostly when the word ‘falling’ is magically echoed and complemented with such an accurate selection of notes voiced through violins.
‘This is the Time’ is the penultimate track in this album. The supporting structure now is up to the violins ensemble, which speaks in a ‘classic’ sound, almost like a suite that is interrupted by new and contemporaneous structures with drums and electric guitars. At this moment, this is the song that really makes me focus on the music itself rather than words. A short moment of magic that eventually fades away.
‘Avalanche’, a great album closer that starts with a piano and Jay Leighton’s voice, a clock, watching the changing seasons and the month of October. Clever lyrics coming with a war-like drum in the shape of reflection through this introspective journey that would end in a specific month of the year, and time being an unpredictable constant of our lives.
There’s something in this album that really gets my whole attention, and that is I just can’t help focusing on lyrics rather than in music, in the best sense. It’s just to tell that it would seem that lyrics are the main topic of this album, and the music would be composed to empower such words, that is, words are wrapped by music and this becomes the main subject of my interest on Jay Leighton’s album. An ocean of sincere and honest introspection that would leave me scratching my head, giving an important (but not main) paper to the past as the way to reaffirm and understand a present (an maybe unpleasant) situation, no future involved.
A heart-felt composition and proposal that invites us to take our time, to be alone just for a while, and take a deep breath. Blue, pink, grey, green, it all depends on our point of view.
Editor’s note: you can download ‘Night and day’ from us right here.