jay som — everybody works album review

melina duterte aka jay som, photo courtesy of Jay Som’s bandcamp page

i discovered jay som in the best way possible — by seeing her perform live. it was back last july when she was one of mitski’s opening acts and i hadn’t planned on showing up early. jay som (aka melina duterte) stepped on stage, did her thing, and performed a set that made me think twice about ever skipping opening acts.

what i love about live performances is that it allows you to discover music in the most organic way possible. it gives both the artist and the audience a chance to really connect to each other. the artist receives reactions and feedback in real time and the audience gets into a song at a much deeper level than had they listened to the song on their computers. without the power to pause or skip a song, you’re obligated to listen to a song in its entirety, giving the artist a real shot at sharing their art with you.

it’s taken me a while to write this (and write, en generale) and i had everything going for me to write and finish this in time for jay som’s album release date on march 10. shout outs to npr music for streaming everybody works a week before the album officially released. another shout out to my dear friend sam for copping the vinyl for me from melina herself (!!!).

cover art for “turn into”

everybody works is jay som’s first album. her claim to music notoriety (a fancy way of saying jay som’s claim to fame) is turn into — a compilation of songs that melina drunkenly loaded onto bandcamp*. as someone in her 20s struggling with adulthood and such, I’d like to think of everybody works as the soundtrack to the imaginary biopic of my life. with the progression of the songs and how it peaks and bellows in pacing, i was intrigued to make sense of the story melina was telling through the album.

everybody works opens with “lipstick stains” and it immediately gave me movie soundtrack vibes. with the dream-indie-pop production, there are hints of what to expect from the album. at just under two minutes, it’s a concise track (read: short) and, if there was a sound that reminds me of quote unquote beginnings, this is it.

album cover for “everybody works”

the album continues on with “the bus song” — one of the lead singles off everybody works. if there’s one song that i’ve listened to over and over it’s this one. it serves as a throwback to my indie-rock-pop-emo days where i wanted songs to help me feel something. with the current music trend of remixes and soundcloud producers, songs that allow space for vulnerability is a tad rare. when melina sings “take time we’ll figure it out” i am filled with glimmers of hope. it’s strange to claim emo-ness as an identity in your 20s but as a “scene” kid of the hellogoodbye and dashboard confessional days, everybody works invites its listeners to reflect on where we are in our lives.

there’s a lot to be said about the album in it of itself, as it represents a completely DIY project at the hands of melina duterte. as the album’s producer, writer, and vocalist, everybody works is wholly hers. as i revisit turn into i am filled with warmth in seeing a fellow woman of color create space for herself where it otherwise wouldn’t have existed. i love everybody works for what it represents — melina’s transition into adulthood as she accepts the inevitability of work and how it invariably shapes the people we become.

* = for what is claimed to be a random set of songs it is a cathartic mess of beauty. listen to it when you’re feeling some type of way about yourself. i love music because it brings me closer to myself and turn into is a vehicle for me to get there.