Written by Maria Arroyo
Jaye Bartell shares his latest release, Kokomo, out now. According to Bartell, the concept behind Kokomo actually came to him as a child growing up. ”
“Kokomo is the Arcadia of the office park, or in the case of my mother when I was growing up, my mother, when I was growing up, the hospitals and ‘care facilities’ where she worked as a nurse. It was in her car, on the way to Country Convenience to play Megabucks, that my associations with Kokomo began. It’s possibly the only song I remember my mother liking,” he explains.
“It’s an ongoing, active process but I’m here,” Bartell shares. “After all of this personal growth that’s a matter of life or death for the one growing and tedious for everyone else, what’s left is this ten-song album: A concept album in reverse.”
The track, “Baskets,” kicks off the album to a great start that has an old-timey Americana feel to it. It brings feelings of nostalgia and good ole’ days, which is really wholesome to listen to. There are a ton of folky moments in the music, and even sprinkles of the renaissance era which is super neat! The next track, “Sky Diver,” carries that same nostalgic feeling, that’s also paired with some interesting lyrical choices and vivid imagery throughout. “Dear” is also unique within itself with the feeling of whimsicality to it.
“So Late” becomes one of the more intimate songs of the album. There’s something about the duet between a male and a female voice that always keeps things as intimate as possible. Having a feminine aspect to the song really softened up the sound, and added some more perspective to the album as a whole. “Permission To Pass” is a nice combination of the more intimate song right before, and his folky sound from the previous songs before that. The earlier songs have more of a rhythmic drive, which is apparent in this song, but still contains a sense of intimacy.
On “Someday,” it brings a more eerie quality to the album. There’s the monotone melody, but with the leading tones in the instrumentation that creates this swelling intensity, that needs to be resolved. In the next track, “Anyone,” the music starts to lighten up as the underlying message of the song is full of emotion. Bartell says that this track “expresses the fatigue and collapse of this impossible need to be told by someone else that you are a person.” He really digs deep into some serious concepts, and only if you are really listening, can you pick up on some crucial lessons he discusses in the song.
His final song, “No One,” makes for a beautiful send-off. The song us bittersweet and sad, but beautifully done.
Now, this is usually the time where I try to wrap everything up, but I don’t think any words of mine do it justice, so I’ll just leave you with some food for thought from Jaye Bartell himself.
“What I love is that it’s possible that you are who you are even if you don’t know who you are. The gift of perspective shows the fuller picture. For the love of these songs and the people who made them, and for the reasons that anyone does anything, I’m releasing this record. All of this aside, I hope you enjoy, and may it find you in good health and heart.” -Jaye Bartell
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