Illusion of You
www.JiHAE.net SEPTEM 2014
The rather eerie half-black / half-white face portrait photograph on the cover hints at drama and mystique, promising a trip somewhere different.
The songs are mainly self-penned and are all-over-the–place in subject matter – titles include ‘Sea Bound’, ‘Sixteen Guns’, ‘Slaughterhouse of Love’. So only by playing the tracks can anything concrete appear. We do know that Dave Stewart is involved in the writing of and music for some of the cuts and we know that he tends to go for the more original artists. In the long Thank You’s list, the only name I recognise is Lenny Kravitz. The album was produce with the financing of crowd funding website ‘Kickstarter’ where one of the many rewards was a special thank you.
Opener ‘Leaving NYC’ sets a solid pace. Trilling guitar chords with a Spanish tinge introduce a husky emphatic vocal evoking a more tuneful Nico of early Velvet Underground renown and later solo works. It’s oddly catchy and with a metronomic drum pattern. The voice coasts over the choppy tempo then almost purrs in your ear. The guitarists play with tremolo settings and then the track is over. Next up is ‘Tonight’ with its sinister plod and Bowiesque delivery. This lady has a conspiratorial vocal approach.
‘It Just feels’ is a joint writing effort by Dave Stewart and Leonard Cohen with JiHAE helping on the music side, the words positive and sensual, expressing relief at release unless I am on the wrong tack, here. Real night music and a chorus straight from Bowie / Iggy and their Berlin sojourn. I’d bet that was what they were going for. And saturnine though this music may be, it is pretty addictive and hypnotic at its best. ‘Tonight’ is pastoral, almost hesitant but another knowing vocal against a warm guitar figure and light-touch drumwork creates true beauty. This is a stunning piece of music, poetic and stirring. Gorgeous melody to. As a picture of desperation, this really works.
‘Sea Bound’ is electronica set to a stately beat. Guitars by Sam Stewart and Avi Bortnick with Vocal support from Django Stewart, another from the Stewart clan, all in all another well-prepared melody. There is as elsewhere little ‘soul’ in the cold instrumental work but the voice does all the connecting however without any of the shrillness that, say, Björk would use. The next cut ‘Sixteen Guns’ is a rock tread with a treated vocal, all painting a picture of the grim and violent side of city life. I would have made this the first track of the record.
‘Slaughterhouse of Love’ is another melodic gem – the music is pure heavy metal but here delivered on a melancholy and understated musical platform. Check the layered vocal arrangement, it’s delicate but concise ; on ‘Only You’ a more elemental vibe is conjured up, over sounds of thunder and a ‘Twin Peaks’ purple sky backdrop. Fair enough, this lass’s voice would sound plain wrong against sunshine banjo and honky tonk piano! It’s dark city music and well-judged in its effect. ‘Lullaby For The Lonely People’ is a tad more down home with its acoustic guitar strum and Dave Stewart in definite L Cohen mode. The soft strings add a baroque colouring. Again it stays in the mind…..
‘Brave Ones’ is doomy indeed – an address to comrades in a metropolitan struggle, heroic piano tinkling through and a choppy rhythm developing as the song builds and goth legato electric guitar rings out over the pounding keys ; closer ‘All The Same’ is stately and haunting, like a cleaned-up Alice In Chains. Best vocal on the disc, romantic and very Bowie, bet she wrote it for him……
A dark collection overall but kept intimate by the singing. I wonder how this might work in a live setting?