Thursday, November 13, 2008

LTF approved: Jem

I have to admit I wasn't one of the people who thought Welsh singer Jem's debut album, Finally Woken, was the greatest album of the year, come down from the mountain to redeem us all with its gentle shoegazing sound. (I'm looking at you, Nic Harcourt!) Yes, the song "Just a Ride" was pretty great, but it instantly got played out in soundtrack-ville and the rest of the album failed to charm me the way it charmed everyone else.

In spite of this, or possibly because of this, I like Jem's latest outing better than everyone else, or so it seems. Down to Earth has a certain bi-polar quality, yes, swinging wildly from mellow light indie to clubby trip-hop but there's a certain appeal in the general quality of the sound that keeps me coming back for more. It's may be the undercurrent of Baroque classical music that runs throughout the whole bi-polar affair that binds it all together for me. (For instance, on "Got It Good," you can actually hear the influence of Pachelbel's Canon in D Major. How many indie albums can you say that about?)

There's a little too much stereotypical "ethnic" sound going on in some of the songs - "Crazy" tries way too hard to be Latin-influenced, for instance - but when Jem just relaxes and lets her natural classical inclinations shine through, the result is excellent. (See songs "It's Amazing," "Got it Good," and "And So I Pray.")

Definitely worth a listen. To get you started, check out Jem's MySpace page and listen to "It's Amazing" (or for nostalgia's sake, "Just a Ride.") Then listen to "Got It Good" via the miracles of YouTube:

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