Returning following the successes of his previous singles ‘Zero-Sum’ and ‘Gwythian’ gaining JJ Draper acclaim from the likes of DIY, The Line OF Best Fit and BBC Radio 1, JJ Draper’s new EP see’s him settle comfortably into a more organic, acoustic sound, with relative ease, like it’s the sound he was born to make.
Borrowing to emotive acoustic experts Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens and Nick Mulvey, the new EP brings together soft vocals, gentle acoustics and ambient atmospherics to great effect. EP opener ‘that’s what i call progress’ instantly sets the tone with gentle reverby notes and airy swirls surrounding the listener before a sampled, re-pitched voice utters the word ‘hold on she said’ and the gentle finger picked acoustic begins. A moody verse that captures an essence of Ben Howard’s 2014 album ‘I Forget Where We Were’ floats in, uneasy and dark, almost unsettling but ultimately undeniable beautiful.
When the chorus first kicks in at a minute into the track it does feel somewhat out of place, while catchy and pulling the track to unexpectedly uplifting place, there is something saccharine, almost twee about this chorus HOWEVER by the time the amazing noises of the tracks crescendo kick in, all is forgiven and you have to listen again. The same feeling of I’m not sure’ when I first heard Nick Mulvey, before a week later, he’s all I was listening to.
As for the rest of the EP there is not a foot out of place, perfectly balanced, emotional, beautifully constructed splendor! ‘…if you’re awake in the night’, a track about a murder on his doorstep is an absolute masterclass, perfectly capturing and reinventing the mood of Bon Iver’s breakthrough album ‘For Emma Forever Ago’. Soft vocals, gentle guitar and piano all topped off with a stunning E-Bow guitar and tingle inducing slide guitar.
On a similar note, ‘timshel’ after a hand full of listens, is one of my favourite love songs before the title track and EP closing track brings an experimental, Jeff Buckley vibe to the EP, capping it off with a enigmatic vocal display, showing off JJ’s ear for harmonies.
While this EP may be darker, less commercially viable than his early work, it paints the picture of an artist only interested in making art, something which is so respectable and ultimately what music should be about! The Theft and the flight is dark, delicate, emotional and at times, totally stunning…
You can buy and stream JJ Draper’s ‘The Theft And The Flight’ July 3rd. Listen to ‘…if you’re awake in the night’ below: