Oakland wunderkind singer-songwriter Jay Som, aka Melina Duterte, gained exposure following the reissue of a collection of her songs known as Turn Into as well as a nationwide tour with Mitski and Japanese Breakfast last summer. The barrier-breaking tour simultaneously ushered in a new class of powerful women into the scene, cementing Duterte’s place among them and affirming the sheer necessity of her work. It’s a big reason we named Jay Som an Artist To Watch — that, plus her full-fledged debut album Everybody Works, which is now streaming in full ahead of its release next week.
The potential we saw in early singles is expounded on here, each track magnificently displaying Duterte’s genre-bending abilities. As album opener “Lipstick Stains” immediately grips you as it picks up in intensity, a captivating hold that doesn’t relent until the album is finished. Varied yet held together by the common thread of Duterte’s craftsmanship, songs encompass a horn section on “The Bus Song,” a serious classic rock guitar solo in “One More Time, Please,” a ’90s alternative epic “Take It,” and dreamy lo-fi vibes on “1 Billion Dogs.” The ever-shifting tracklist keeps you holding on just to see what she’ll experiment with next.
There’s a distinct character to these songs, yet the only thing that would tip you off that this album was entirely recorded and produced in her bedroom is its organic quality. In a way, Everybody Works is a circular experience: the seven-minute slow-burn of final track “For Light” fizzles out into the same airy synths that lead us into the album on “Lipstick Stain.” It goes to show how comprehensive the final product is, or, perhaps even better, how it was made to be listened to on repeat. Stream it below via NPR.
Everybody Works is out 3/10 via Polyvinyl. Pre-order it here.