After the release of Everybody Works in 2017, Melina Duterte, the singer/songwriter/mastermind behind indie-pop project Jay Som, had the difficult task of following up a highly acclaimed and outright stellar album. Not surprisingly, she did exactly that with the release of Anak Ko (Tagalog for “My Child”) in August of this year. With her third successful album in as many releases, Jay Som has established herself as a true centerpiece of the DIY, dreamy aesthetic that is dominating the indie scene as of late. With Anak Ko, Jay Som builds on her typical style, while employing a range of influences from classic shoegaze to country-folk that bolster her already captivating sound.
In lead track “If You Want It,” a driving bassline flanked by intricately dancing guitar immediately establishes that Jay Som’s skillful musicianship and meticulous songwriting are the forefront of this album. Throughout the track, her voice accentuates the instrumentation so well, that the two are often lost in each other in the best way possible. The track culminates in a dizzying, scintillating guitar solo that provides not only a pristine conclusion, but a great introduction to the next track “Superbike.” This second track is bright and airy, once again carried along by washed out guitar that meanders alongside her delicately delivered vocals, melding the two into one living, breathing instrument. These two tracks are the biggest standouts, providing an exciting and refreshing start to the album.
While “If You Want It” and “Superbike” epitomize the sound that Jay Som fans have come to expect, title track “Anak Ko” explores more unfamiliar territory for the artist. Its spaced out, irregular guitar picking creates a melancholic mood for the song, which ultimately devolves into a noisey, synth driven breakdown, bookended by highly distorted, almost haunting vocals. This transition is stunning in the context of the whole album, as earlier tracks feature Jay Som’s more typical sound of softly sung vocals and shining guitar. It is exactly where one would have hoped the artist would venture next, as her sound continues to mature.
Overall, Anak Ko is an easy and enjoyable listen, with endless replay value. While it may not eclipse its immensely successful predecessor Everybody Works, it absolutely continues Jay Som’s career in the right direction. As the indie music scene becomes more and more dominated by powerful, talented women, Jay Som is undoubtedly one of the leading forces.
Recommended If You Like: Hatchie, Snail Mail, Soccer Mommy
Recommended Tracks: 1 (If You Want It), 2 (Superbike), 7 (Anak Ko)
Do Not Play: N/A
Written by Kade Schoenfeldt on 09/15/2019