Under the moniker of Jaye Jayle, Louisville guitarist/vocalist Evan Patterson has spent over a decade exploring the more abstract realms of the American singer-songwriter process. The name—a reference to a bluebird locked in a cage as a metaphor for being tethered to the blues’ pentatonic guitar style and forlorn subject matter—underscores Patterson’s esoteric relationship to browbeaten themes and old musical traditions. The three previous Jaye Jayle albums—House Cricks and Other Excuses to Get Out (2016), No Trail and Other Unholy Paths (2018) and Prisyn (2020)—found Jaye Jayle continuously experimenting with form and traversing a myriad of sonic trails. On his latest album, Don’t Let Your Love Life Let You Down, Patterson continues to push at the boundaries of American blues and folk traditions while breaking the shackles of defeat and passing into a realm residing between Western stoicism and mystic wonder.
For Don’t Let Your Love Life Get You Down, Patterson fused the electronic sound-design approach of Prisyn with the full-band dynamic of his earlier work. The songs were rendered in an unconventional manner. Over the course of a year, Patterson tracked guitar lines with his longtime live sound engineer Nick Roeder in a studio built in a converted day-care center. Longtime Jaye Jayle member Todd Cook laid down bass next. Drums followed, with the duties split between Chris Maggio and ongoing collaborator Neal Argabright. Patterson and returning Jaye Jayle member Corey Smith then overdubbed synthesizers. Saxophone (courtesy of Patrick Shiroishi) and vocals (including a guest appearance by Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy) came last.
It was a gradual and uncertain process, but Patterson was in a much different headspace than he’d been in the past, having come out on the other side of a dissolved marriage and a long period of instability and uncertainty. “I found peace in being accepting of the change. Rather than beating myself up emotionally to go through the divorce. I decided I need to be selfless and guide myself to a place of unconditional understanding and peace.” That openness and vulnerability shaped the music and tapped into something that no previous Jaye Jayle album has attained. “I wanted the songs to feel ‘devastatingly hopeful,’” Patterson says.
Like Leonard Cohen fronting some intermediary step between Spacemen 3 and Spiritualized, Don’t Let Your Love Life Get You Down, conjures an aura of psychedelic grace and enveloping warmth through its pairing of pensive baritone poetics, druggy studio manipulations, and gospel-infused blues. Abetted by the production and mixing skills of Ben Chisholm (Chelsea Wolfe), Jaye Jayle takes the old American singer-songwriter template and imbues it with a kaleidoscope of synesthesia delights culled from a half-century’s worth of fringe music.
This aural grandeur reinforces the life-affirming radiance of Don’t Let Your Love Life Get You Down. Though Jaye Jayleretains the hypnotic repetition and austere instrumentation of their past, the added layers and saturation of sound intensifies the immersive hallucinatory spirit only previously hinted at in their work. As with all Jaye Jayle records, it’s still best suited for the hours after midnight, but it now holds the promise of dawn.
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