By Yasmine Shemesh
Vancouver-based singer and songwriter Nat Jay releases her highly anticipated debut album.
Jay’s debut album, All I Think When I Wake Up, has been a long time coming. Six years have passed since the release of her acclaimed first EP, Lights Across the Sky, and though the journey may have been lengthy, it was a labour of love. “Being an indie artist, being a team of one, that’s kind of part of the deal — it takes a little longer to get everything together,” she says. “In the end, it’s my project; it’s something that I put my heart and soul into, and it’s my vision coming to life. So, hopefully, it’s worth the wait!”
Jay may be modest but don’t be fooled — in the time she spent creating her new record, the singer acquired an extensive and impressive list of accomplishments that is almost unheard of for an artist who had yet to release a proper full-length. In addition to having her music featured in film and television on major networks worldwide (building her a burgeoning following) she cut her teeth on performances with artists including Juno Award-winner Dan Managan, showcased at NXNE, headlined at JunoFest, was nominated for SOCAN Songwriter of the Year at the BCCMAs, and then was named a SOCAN Music Ambassador.
Accolades aside, what Jay insists she gained the most over the last few years was her growth. With an already natural ability for penning a poetic lyric, constant recording, collaborating, and writing gave her the opportunity to really hone her craft. As a result, All I Think When I Wake Up is an outstanding effort of artistry, demonstrating Jay’s dexterity as both a songwriter and vocalist, and creating a versatile sound that stretches beyond the boundaries of a conventional pop record.
Jay’s voice is breathy and lush, and the album addresses feelings of love, loss, vulnerability, and joy. Emotive ballads like “I Will Keep You Warm” and “Just a Little More” balance nicely alongside twangy jaunts (“Cover Your Tracks”) and folksy ditties (“Love Me Too”) without losing continuity. A handful of songs, including the fizzy electro-pop lead single, “Can’t Getcha Out,” were inspired by a person that introduced a new perspective to her life. “Certain people you meet really have an impact on you and they make you see things in a different way,” she says. “I think those people are harder to shake.”
Channeling life experiences, both good and bad, into her art not only fuels Jay’s creative process but it’s also something that she finds therapeutic. “I always feel good when I put something that’s negative in my life into a song — into something that I’m proud of, that I see beauty in,” she says. “It makes that negative thing that happened okay.” As such, her songs are like time capsules, and as she grows, her music does with her, too. “I’ve been through a lot in the last few years,” Jay explains. “It’s [the new record] a much darker album than Lights Across The Sky. And it’s funny, the songs that I’m writing these days are a lot different than the ones on All I Think When I Wake Up.”
Where the journey of life takes Jay is yet to be seen, but for now, All I Think When I Wake Up tidily captures her successes, her maturation, and a prowess that establishes her as one of the country’s most promising songwriters. And that is certainly something worth waiting for.
Nat Jay’s album release party is on Friday, September 26 on the Revue Stage at Granville Island. Purchase tickets online or at the door.
All I Think When I Wake Up is available on iTunes.
Published online at www.vancitybuzz.com, September 2014