St. Vincent, Feist, Adele
Sarah Jaffe is a difficult artist to make comparisons with. Her new album, The Body Wins, is a surprisingly diverse and impressively emotional collection of songs marked by a newly electrified wall-of-sound. To simply say that Jaffe sounds like Adele or Norah Jones or Pat Benatar, though it would be technically correct, it's somewhat inadequate. And that's because Jaffe is a wholly individual and progressively experimental songwriter as well as a strikingly beautiful singer.
Sarah Jaffe first made her mark on the Texas scene as a folk artist, immediately recognized for her stunning voice and deeply personal body of work. When Jaffe self-released her debut, Even Born Again EP, in 2008, she was only 22. Not that you would have known from the sophisticated lyrics and tender melodies. The attention that the release generated made Jaffe an international figure by the time her full length, Suburban Nature, arrived in 2010. Still mostly centered in her folk tradition, certain rumblings for a broader sound seemed on the rise when Jaffe released her 2011 EP, The Way Sound Leaves a Room, which found the songwriter moving away from simple structures towards a fuller, orchestral, indie rock sound.
That evolution is now realized in Jaffe's new album, The Body Wins, a daring, dazzling blend of electronics and indie rock set behind Jaffe's powerfully angelic voice. From the symphonic opening and the groove-centric title track, Jaffe displays a new side to her sound. By the time the album's single, "Glorious High'" hits, Jaffe has already left her acoustic roots far behind, and the rousing, anthemic chorus that Jaffe croons out over a wall of synths is indeed a powerful statement. This is a new Sarah Jaffe, fearless and innovative, exploring new territory and conquering it spectacularly. Pianos drive many of the songs, with horns, electronic drums, and an atmospheric moodiness piercing each song superbly. The Body Wins is a record of one revelation after another; soulful, compelling, wise beyond the songwriter's 26 years of age, and better with each listen.