About the gig
Another great Subculture night. Taking a female inspired tip, we put on Jaymay, Candie Payne and Saint Etienne – a truly beautiful night. Jaymay kick off proceedings playing a delicate acoustic set, hailing from New York and with a debut album out on Heavenly in November, Jaymay is definitely a name to watch out for in 2008 (one of our favourite new artists).
Candie Payne then took things up another level with a semi-acoustic set especially for the 100 Club. As one reviewer described her “Forget everything that’s happened since 1972 (except perhaps Amy Winehouse who is her nearest contemporary) and wallow in a slick, pumping Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound meets Dusty Springfield production, with a good measure of smoke-filled downstairs dive blues stirred in for seasoning”. Perfect for the atmospheric 100 Club.
And then on came Saint Etienne to a rapturous welcome. Sarah Cracknell typified the strong (and beautiful) front woman and Bob and Pete revelled in the chance to pump out the string of seminal hits that defined the ‘Summer of Love’ in a club that they love.
Only Love Can Break Your Heart and Nothing Can Stop Us Now, - from the ground breaking ‘Foxbase Alpha’ debut album - through to Join Our Club and Who Do You Think You are. Stunning live, it made you remember what a superb and influential band Saint Etienne are (and that ‘Foxbase Alpha’ should be in everyone’s record collection). Playing encore after encore – the audience wouldn’t let them go.
All of the above was interwoven with brilliant female musician inspired sets from Sheila of Cha Cha Charming and the genius on the decks that is Terry Hall. As ever at our nights, all the acts mixed with the crowd in the relaxed vibe that is a Subculture night and then went onto a special after show round the corner at The Heavenly Social - London’s coolest bar. Terry Hall was persuaded to play another impromptu 2 hour set – for a perfect night of musical bliss.
Jaymay would probably be happy if this biog was as short as this: Jaymay’s a young New Yorker. She’s in love with books and music and she writes eloquent, beautiful songs about the heart, her life in New York and the seasons. Her first album is ’Autumn Fallin’, released on Heavenly. That would probably do it for Jaymay. Toss the biog in the bin now, she’d say, put ‘Autumn Fallin’ on and listen. All you need to know is there…
Because one of the first things you learn from Jaymay when hired to write her biog is that there is plenty she’d rather didn’t make it into the biog. Not because there are reams of salacious detail or scandal. She just doesn’t want her biography to distract you from her songs. All you need to know really is tattooed into her melodies.
So let’s not dwell on her upbringing on Long Island, New York, one of six kids, born 26 years ago. Let’s not pick through the bones of her childhood in this hectic home, learning to play piano on the family’s rickety baby grand, showing an aptitude for violin and composing early “stupid, stupid songs” about her dog. And you probably don’t need to know her real name: Jamie Kristine Seerman. Everyone just calls her Jaymay.
We can, however, talk briefly about her passion for books, rivalled only as a teenager by her passion for Bob Dylan, because this is a recurring theme. And in a way, these two passions are intertwined later on, in her current work: a great storyteller using lean, powerful melody and her own singular voice to paint a picture.
This passion for books was so overwhelming that after college – in Florida, New York, even Italy for a while – she decided she wanted to work in publishing, and moved to Manhattan in 2003 with that express purpose. “Just so I could get free books, just so I could be near books.” But that never came off, and thank God. If she’d got near enough to a publishing house she may never have got onstage that night in 2003 at a New York open mic, where she completed half a song and realised that, oh yes, this is what she was meant to be doing. Writing songs, singing them and feeling a connection.
She played shows. She wrote more songs. She eventually released some of those songs, the five-song ‘Sea Green, See Blue’ EP, and these wise, poetic, incisive songs sung in a seductive burr struck a chord. Featured on iTunes’ indie spotlight, her EP became a top seller in folk. Then, Californian radio station KCRW started playing ‘Sea Green, See Blue’ on its popular Top Tune podcast and things really took off. People started buying her songs, many thousands of people started buying her songs, and record labels started to offer her money to put these songs out on their imprints. Heavenly won the race. Jaymay’s glad about that. “They’re my favourite label after all,” she shrugs.
Since then, she’s moved for a brief period to London. She’s played tons of shows. She’s toured with the likes of Cherry Ghost and Bright Eyes. And she’s finished her debut album, ‘Autumn Fallin’. It’s a beautiful piece of work that tells with an acute eye for emotional detail the story of a love affair that navigates a bitter New York winter. This is heartache and heartbreak and renewed hope in melodic technicolour.
If there’s a better evocation of the rush of first love than Gray Or Blue and Sycamore Down, or a more faithful portrayal of its curtain-call than Ill Willed Person or You’d Rather Run released this year, then please, bring it on.
‘Autumn Fallin’ is the death of a relationship and the death of a friend,” says Jaymay. “It’s about Autumn turning into Winter. The songs come from seven months of life and relationships in New York. But there’s hope there in the songs too. If you think of the first song, ‘Gray Or Blue’, and the last song, ‘You Are The Only One I Love’, as bookends you can read a story.
And in these personal, poetic recollections of love that Jaymay delivers you hear not only a vivid insight into her seven months, but also a reflection of your own life and loves. And then, when the album is finished, you put it on again because you can’t believe someone could have nailed it, nailed you, so. And that’s all you need to know.
Jaymay’s debut Album Autumn Fallin’ is released 5th November on Heavenly Recordings/EMI
Frequency - This girl is going places. Currently a starving artist in the Big Apple, JAYMAY has only a 3-track promotional EP in her library of recordings, and even so, she is going places. Rarely do we get the treat of hearing a pop songwriter with both an innovative style and a startlingly beautiful, natural voice. And when I say "beautiful," I don't mean "beautiful" like your friend who sings at the coffee shop down the street (although JAYMAY does sing at coffee shops down streets); I mean "beautiful" like one of the most subtle and tasteful and fine interpreters of song that I've heard in a long while. JAYMAY is young and just getting started, but based on her promo disc, I predict a bright future. Enjoy.
Paul Banks - 05
Urban Folk (Vol 1) - Promo CD Review - This three song CD is the jewel of the New York underground. When I first got it, it didn't leave my player for days. Her songs sound familiar with an old time feel, while at the same time fresh and altogether new. She gives us catchy yet complex melodies, creative and personal lyrics that are easy to connect with, and the voice of an angel; a quirky angel with a good sense of humor and an easy going attitude. She almost has a twang to her voice, although more sweet than any kind of country twang. The recording is just her and the piano, but the production sounds good and the simplicity of it brings out the songs well. The ballad at the end says a lot about her talent that she could still make the song drawn-out and moving while not losing the easy melodic sense that made the other songs work so well. This CD is necessary for everyone regardless of his or her tastes. You will be hearing the catchy melodies for days, and thanking life that such sweet sounds exist.