Album review: Jay'ed - Here I stand

Album review: Jay'ed - Here I stand | Random J Pop

Jay'ed's music is like limbo. It's neither here nor there. Occasionally there are moments which find their way and land. "Everybody" from his debut Musication was a jam. His collabo EP with rapper Aklo features a couple of hot tracks. But for the most part Jay'ed's music never feels wholly present, because he never feels wholly present himself. So many of Jay'd's songs are left with vasts amounts of room which he fails to occupy. It's a strange thing, because Jay'd knows music. He writes and co-produces his own material and he's covered the likes of Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra and Eric Clapton. But whatever passion he has for music never seems to translate into his own. Jay'ed feels like an artist who knows he isn't that great, but is trying to wing it anyway and this is what Here I stand feels representative of as a whole.

As much as we hate on the likes of Justin Timberlake, he's put out good albums, all of which have been great showcases of not only the music he likes, but the respect he has for it. Yes, his first album was a bite of Michael Jackson, his second Prince and his third Stevie Wonder. But he owned each of those albums regardless. Jay'ed doesn't manage to do the same across his own discography. Here I stand in itself even feels like an attempt to do what Justin Timberlake did with The 20/20 experience, but lo and behold, he doesn't pull it off.

Jay'ed is not the most energetic artist and his singing voice is pretty flat. I don't know whether it's the chill Kiwi in him or if he's legitimately dead inside, but listening to Jay'ed's music is like listening to an Elcor from Mass effect or being on NyQuil. For some artists, this works, i.e Namie Amuro. But she has great production to surround her. And as much as we joke about how Queen Namiserable sings like she is fresh out of fucks to give, she does in fact give us SOMETHING. Jay'ed not so much. He never spikes, peaks or troughs. He just gives you a 3 to 4 minute flatline. On the songs where the production is strong, the music holds your interest in ways that Jay'ed fails to. On songs where the tempo is upbeat, Jay'ed having to ride the beat gives him some form of energy by proxy. But if neither of these traits are appended to a song, then there's not much going on. Even Daichi Mirua, who is literally the male equivalent of Namie Amuro in terms of how many fucks he does not give in any of his music videos and his paper thin vocals gives more than Jay'ed does.

Here I stand serves up a nice consistent selection of sounds. But they all bleed into one monotonous drone because of Jay'ed.

The album opening track "The paradise" is this funky, horn laden track and as an intro it works. It's bold and feels like an arrival. The right way to kick off this type of album. But Jay'ed shuffles onto the track when he should have been electric sliding into it. He doesn't match the energy or the tonality of the song and as a result, he leaves the music floundering. It's almost 4 minutes of waiting for him to finally HIT IT and deliver, but he just doesn't. If you close your eyes and vislaise th emusic, you can see it rolling its eyes at Jay'ed's inability to step up.

But then the follow up track "Must be magic" is an 80s funk track with a much smoother, laid back vibe which is much more on Jay'ed's frequency. So it works. So much to a point that it should have kicked off the album instead of "The paradise" which wasn't the explosive intro that he wanted to be.

"Without you" could have been the albums defining moment. But the whole thing just falls so incredibly flat. Jay'ed doesn't seem to have any chemistry with Crystal what-so-ever. Despite the song being about them not being able to live without each other, I find it difficult to believe that Crystal even wanted to record the damn song. She sounds technically good, as she has done for the past decade. But she phoned this performance in and this is not something Crystal has even done before when she's featured on a song. This is a girl who has a reputation for killing every appearance in a featuring capacity. But here, she ain't wid it. The production of the song is nice, but it sounds dated, monotonous and at 5 minutes is far too long. Quite frankly, I expected more from its producer T. Kura, who has laced Crystal with hotness consistently since she was 17. I can't believe this song is produced by the same guy that brought us "Girl U love", "I wanna be", "Forever" and "Be mine".

"All I did was grind" is saved by the production and Aklo. Plain and simple.

"P.B.E" is saved on the merits of the production alone, which sounds like Carly Rae-Jepsen "The first time" and thematically channels Michael Jackson's "P.Y.T". Whilst Jay'ed delivers more energy on this song that I thought he was capable of, he doesn't matter much on this song because the beat is so hot and it sets up a vibe before he even utters a note. Credit to him, he compliments the music here as opposed to dragging it down or sucking the life out of it. But the inclusion of Ryuuji Imaichi of J soul brothers from Exile tribe feels unnecessary. He infects this song the same way he did Crystal Kay's "Very special". The dude can't sing. In fact, putting Crystal on this song would have been a much better fit than slapping her on "Without you".

The ballads on this album follow the same pattern as all of the other songs. Really nice production, poor vocal delivery from Jay'ed. There are no 808s, catchy melodies and warblicious bass-lines for Jay'ed's vocals to hide behind. On all three of them ("Ashita gakuru nara", "My way", "Here I stand") things start nice enough. But 1 and a half minutes in, Jay'ed makes a reach for a note and tries to give us SOMETHING, only for his pitch and lack of texture just leave you distressed. It's like when that bitch from the animated X-Men series would just turn up in her Kenzo mini-dress and just fuck people up with her headache powers. That's Jay'ed on a ballad ya'll.

When I think of every song of Jay'ed's that I like, it's never because of him, but what's going on around him. The first song which introduced me to him "Everybody" was a great song, because the hook was catchy and the production was hot. Bu the song could have been released by Chemistry, a member of EXILE or a Johnny's associate and I still would have liked it. His EP with Aklo is really good. But when I listen to songs from it, I'm literally just soaking in Bachlogic's killer production and waiting for Aklo to come in and shut it down. Jay'ed ain't nothing but the warm up act and Here I stand feels like a lead up to something, with no pay off.

Jay'ed manages to draw the life out of this album despite it having all of the elements to be something so good; a great team of producers, songwriters, a nice roster of guest features. But the end result is an album which feels vacant, because Jay'ed fails to occupy the songs and bring them to life.

RATING: 3 / 10

Album highlights:
■ Must be magic
■ All I did was grind
■ P.B.E ★ J's fave