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Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


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The best kept secret in music


"JAYMAY Live at the Living Room, NYC"

Every Monday night for the past month a waif of a performer has been entrancing shoulder-to-shoulder crowds in the back room of SoHo's Living Room bar, backgrounding the chitchat of Village hipsters with an ethereal concoction of lilting lyrics, wailed laments, clever interludes, and the sort of good old-fashioned folk that freely references its foot-tapping roots. As a songwriter, JAYMAY has a talent for taking girl-with-a guitar conventions and nudging them just enough left of center that your aesthetic sense becomes conscious of experiencing something new. She's mastered the sardonic, no-nonsense delivery that made early Ani DiFranco sound at once so personal and so tough, and that serves as such an effective counterpoint to the wispy sentimentalism of soft folk rock. She demonstrates through abbreviated pieces like “Letter” that she's not afraid to let a short but sweet musical theme stand on its own, unadorned, as the sort of ephemeral musical poem with which Tori Amos fans are so familiar, and she seasons old country tropes with contemporary sensibility as adeptly as Neko Case. But these comparisons serve only to illustrate aspects of her art, not to reduce or dissect it. Whether she's strumming along to a ragtime piano solo, whispering confessional poetry over faintly plucked guitar strings, or improvising a horn solo that—due to the absence of a horn—is literally tongue-in-cheek, JAYMAY has a style that's very much her own, and that style is serving her well.

In the show I attended she bantered confidently with a crowd that barely fit in the room she faced, and that responded to her confessions with a hush, to her single one-liner with a roar, and to the gestalt of her performance with generous contributions to the tip-bucket. In fact, though her songwriting is accomplished and her style is singular, her real genius seems to be for performance, and specifically for the kind of laid back performance that invites attention rather than demanding it. She sits while singing, and while her songs could serve well as ambience for soft coffee shop conversation, her spriteliness and inventive approach ensure that you can't help but pay attention. Unexpected but effective moments flourish—like that weird little hummed horn solo—guaranteeing that your attention is rewarded. You may sense, too, even during a single show, that she is skillful in adapting her compositions to the various requirements presented by different venues, diverse crowds, and a changing roster of backing musicians.

Given these gifts, it will be interesting to see what choices JAYMAY makes during the production of a full-length album. Her independent promo disc is an adequate document of her unusual style, and an evocative testament to her skill as a singer; but the early productions of a young artist like this invite more speculation than assessment. How will she choose to arrange songs that adapt so well to different performers and new contexts? And what tools and additions will her producer use to highlight, without drowning out, her unique style? There's nothing to do, of course, but wait and see—for now it should be pleasant enough to look JAYMAY up in the backroom of some bar or coffee shop, take note of her talents, and imagine the possibilities open to her. - WOMANROCK

"Buzz Bands Gone Wild"

A&R types have been making their way in small groups to The Living Room for New York's own JAYMAY, who finishes up her residency at the venue next week. Reps from various sides of the industry, including label, legal and publishing, have stopped in to see the singer-songtress' charming live act and mind-blowing vocals. Early comparisons have been made to Regina Spektor. - Coolfer

"New York, You Have a New Star"

You never know what to expect in this city, but to hear such a thing of beauty on a simple Monday evening is rare even here. Thanks to the superior scouting skills of the lovely Kerry Kennedy, we got to hear Jaymay and her band at the Living Room. Yes, it's just a girl playing guitar (or piano), but this does not get boring, not for a single second. Her voice is a great original mix of Suzanne Vega (timbre) and Lou Reed (phrasing), her tunes are strong, lively and engaging - and her backing band is a pleasure to listen to and a lesson in well-disciplined decency. If these people don't get a bloody good record deal soon, I don't know who does. Jaymay plays every Monday in May at 9pm at the Living Room. Seize the chance - it's free now, soon you'll be paying $80 or more to see her at the Beacon or MSG. - Roman Games

"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.

-Dave Cuomo - Urban Folk Magazine

"JAYMAY - Singer/songwriter Discovered!"

It's fun to discover a new artist. One that hasn't been blogged about ad nauseum. Someone who's got their whole career in front of them. That person is Jaymay. I could tell you all about her upbringing and how she got to where she is today...but that's not important; it's the music that counts.

Jaymay is a singer-songwriter with a crystal clear voice who sounds like she's found the secret to mixing folk, cabaret, and jazz (a new trend - Sylvie Lewis and Norah Jones also). If you live in and around NYC you're lucky, JAYMAY will be performing at The Living Room on Mondays in May.

Three songs are available online with nothing yet available to purchase, so just sit back and relax (unless you're a label type then get on the horn to your superiors).

- Craig Bonnell - songs:illinois

"Show Review"

Jaymay from NYC (previously mentioned). I went to her show last night at the Living Room. Good draw. She revives old jazz and blues but complies with the new folk sounds of Devendra Banhart, Ray Lamontagne and Nellie McKay. At 23, she's very comfortable in her own skin harboring a starlet-like compusure rarely seen in these parts. Spotted in the audience was attorney George Stein (Jeff Buckley) among others. - Demodiaries

"Demo Review"

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 - Frequency

"Village Broadsheet Demo Review"

Jaymay's generation of female soft pop songsters are damned to stand forever in the shadows of Fiona Apple, Aimee Mann, and "That Chick from Belle & Sebastian." This Holy Trinity of Girl Vocal Pop have, more than any set of singers since the "girl pop" luminaries of the early 60s (Ronettes, Cilla Black, the Shangri-La's, etc.), left an indelible stamp on the tone and texture of modern music. Vanessa Carlton and her wicked cadre of pale look- and sound-alikes haunt the decrepit VH-1 mansion at or around the witching hour, and most every open mic is guaranteed to sport a Mann-alike strumming, swooning, humming, and bubbling over with effervescent vocal trills and personal lyrics that would make even Joni Mitchell groan in disbelief. We mustn't neglect, on the other side of the spectrum, the Le Tigre/Sleater-Kinney/Ani DiFranco triumverant, responsible for more olive green military pants, black tank-tops, and shaved heads than a Neo-Nazi compound in Oregon (sorry, Portland League of Racial Purity -- you just don't have enough pop capital to spark a trend.) Women of Generation Fill-in-the-Blank, the powers that be have given you a clear choice: boring and confessional or boring and radical. Take your pick.

Jaymay's three-track promo, then, is a breath of fresh air in the stagnant world of the female singer-songwriter, a slice of piano-oriented pop that dares to stand out from the great granola gang and overflow with ebulient, mind-bogglingly catchy pop in the tradition of...well, you know who. Opener "On & On" apes the opening piano stab of the Fabs's "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" before settling into a quiet, autumnal vamp with effectively subtle harmonies and a stellar vocal performance from the singer. "Over My Head" is a charmingly baroque guitar-and-tinkerbell concoction, amazingly sweet but managing to steer clear of all-out tweedom.

"Blue Skies" is the closest JAYMAY gets to falling into the Apple-Mann world, but she skirts the edges of imitation with grace and tact, creating from the obvious influences a gentle, melancholic ballad. In some theoretically perfectly Sundance-winning indie flick, this song would accompany the moment when the protagonist, a pretty girl in New York, would come to whatever realization it is the screenwriter (doubtlessly an ugly boy in New York) has cooked up for her: hands on her head but eyes rolling slowly towards the sky, the protagonist stands, sighs, and strolls with hands thrust in her pockets through a lavishly filmed Central Park in autumn. Or something like that.

The songwriting on these three tracks, as strong as it is, is overshadowed by the beauty and control of Jaymay's voice, the tender way she has of infusing each note with a kernel of earnestness that comes off as neither overly whimsical nor heavy-handed. For evidence of this vocal prowess, check out the moment in "On & On" when she sings "window pane," and marvel at how someone can execute on record what would look on the page: "...every window p^!aane!" The pop of the 'P,' the exuberance in the line, the confidence in the melody: there's an almost Nilssonian texture to the vocals on this song. And I'm a sucker for Nilsson.

Long story short, the promo is tremendous and portends very good things for the forthcoming full-length. So long as Jaymay errs towards subtlety, understated instrumentation, and sweetly encircling melodies, she'll have a hell of a career ahead of her.

-Rob Rabiee - The Village Broadsheet


Still working on that hot first release.


Feeling a bit camera shy


A young woman steps out of her apartment onto the street. Maybe she's got her guitar, maybe just a notebook. She moves purposefully but not too quick, as if she knows where she's going but wants to take in the sights along the way. Maybe she'll go to the bar and read a book in the corner. Maybe she gets up on stage and sings a song.

JAYMAY is a storyteller. The narrative runs through each one of her songs, a melodic thread of self-reflection and eloquent articulation, threading through music that is both graceful and bold. The songs are chapters, tales of the young woman who stepped out onto the street one night to find and lose love and move forward, open to the dangers and wonders offered by the world. On Over My Head, above the slow picking of a music-box guitar line, she intones, Tell me truly how to sing this song, but in the same breath it is obvious she already knows how. By the top of the next verse she admits as much: Listen to me as I sing this song. And you do.

JAYMAY was born, the third of six children, to an English teaching dad and stay-at-home mom. She grew up in a small town on the eastern reaches of Long Island's south shore. In a lively, crowded house, a baby grand, surrounded by overflowing bookshelves and family photographs, occupied valuable space in the living room. As a child, JAYMAY's musical gifts, in her singing and on violin, were apparent and she possessed a precocious appreciation for music, ranging from Barbara Streisand to Vivaldi. Her passion though lay in books; she poured through her parent's library: Salinger, Melville, Carver, Twain, plus histories, biographies, poetry, art books; all the time filling notebooks with her own writing. Books held the answers, she believed, and in writing she could tell her own story.

But something strange happened to pull her from the books and point her towards the songs: her CD player broke. Instead of a myriad collection of CDs floating around her house and in and out of her stereo, songs that had already become background music, she could only play tapes. And she only had three tapes: a wonderful, eclectic collection of Bob Dylan rarities called Biograph. JAYMAY listened intently and heard what she was looking for: the undeniable voice of a storyteller set to music that could be soft or loud, heartbreakingly lovely, raunchy and dangerous or anywhere in between. From there, JAYMAY picked up her brother's guitarand wrote her own song.

After graduating college in 2003, JAYMAY landed in Manhattan and began playin open mics all around the city and has since played over 300 shows at venues like the Living Room, Pianos, Bitter End, World Cafe Live, etc. Watching JAYMAY play is a unique, intense experience. For the uninformed, expectations often play their part. An audience sees a pretty, young woman get on stage with just a guitar and they think of high school poetry and half-hearted confession, trite folk chords, perhaps a passable singing voice. JAYMAY dispels these prejudices with the first words she sings. It is the sound of her voice that first serves to make people look up from their drinks and listen anew; strong and supple, rich in texture, forceful in tone, capable of conveying sweetness, sexiness, humor and heartache. Then people start to key into the songs themselves, the vividly poetic lyrics brimming with intelligence and emotional honesty, and the finely wrought, affecting melodies, more Everly Brothers than Indigo Girls. The words come steadily, bounding from note to note, but then she holds a phrase, stretching it out until the words lose meaning and again, there is just JAYMAY's voice. The audience is listening now. They hear JAYMAY, but they see themselves, their own tribulations, lost loves, lonely times when they were brave, because JAYMAY has told them of hers.

It is the true purpose of the artist, the singer, the storyteller; to articulate truths through a mix of craft, talent and inspiration in such way that they become real for the audience. JAYMAY is the artist, the singer, the storyteller.

by Joe Weissman