Jay Elle is no one-trick pony, and if you needed some evidence to back this up, his new album Ride the Wave is jam-packed with it. Behind the guitar parts, Elle’s vocal is all we need to peer inside his world and find a treasure trove of emotional emissions a lot of artists who obstruct behind surreal instrumentation and synthesized hooks. Whether it’s the blunt “Want Me Bad,” affectionate “Miss Mess,” or striking “Insane,” one thing can be counted upon in Ride the Wave, and it’s that this is one alternative rock record that doesn’t live in the same aesthetical universe as its parents did.
“Waiting for the warmth of the sky of blue / But I don’t really care ‘cause I’ll make do” sings Elle in “Rainy Day,” and while his lyrics reference self-reliance, they’re delivered in such a tone as to suggest he’s really looking for our help and not just a slim hook to join lyrics to music. He uses his whole voice when he’s singing, and though he doesn’t push himself too hard at the microphone, you don’t have to be a professional critic to hear the passion he’s got in his heart when he’s singing any of the material in this record.
“Want Me Bad,” “Angeling,” “Better Luck Next Time,” and “Twelve on Sunday” make a point of rejecting the surrealism I’ve been consistently hearing out of the FM market lately in favor of doing something a bit more straightforward and familiar to classic rock fans, but the guts of the material lives closer to the left side of the dial. It’s oddly punky to use so much tradition in a record that feels so antiauthority in some of its best moments, but considering all of the emotion he’s putting into this, I suppose Elle earns the right to be a strange kind of rebel here.
In addition to this, my man is seemingly never sound scared of trying something a little fresher than the competition might have in the title track in particular, which stands beside “Morning Rain” and “Who’s Camille” as one of the best and most personal works here. There’s a folkiness to this sound that I want him to explore just a little more than he has thus far in his career, but not if it means sacrificing any of the incredible guitar tone he’s putting out in these songs, acoustic and electric alike.
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Diversely-appointed but still very much an easy introduction to what kind of an artist he really is (and, for that matter, can become inside of a short period of time), the incredible Ride the Wave is Jay Elle being the best version of Jay Elle he can be, and it’s made me quite curious about his larger discography in general lately. He’s grown so much so quickly, but he isn’t showboating in this album at all; Ride the Wave actually sounds more like a postcard than a biography, giving us a wink and a smile from wherever our friend has landed today with a few clues as to where he’s headed tomorrow.
by Jennifer Munoz