Jay Som - Anak Ko - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Jay Som - Anak Ko

by Tim Sentz Rating:8 Release Date:2019-08-23
Jay Som - Anak Ko
Jay Som - Anak Ko

At the tail end of 2016, Melina Mae Duterte was celebrating a successful debut album run with Turn Into, an album mostly comprised of singles she’d plucked from a bank of dozens and thrown together. At the time, she was a solo artist under the Jay Som moniker, but with her breakthrough sophomore record Everybody Works, she found herself in the spotlight, bringing a full band along as she toured with the likes of Mitski, Japanese Breakfast, and eventually opening for Foster the People and Paramore. 

What made Everybody Works such a benchmark dream-pop record was how incredibly personal it felt, every song was a testament to Duterte’s writing skills, and it all seemed to come directly from the heart. Two years later and the proper follow-up after a handful of singles and collaborations with Justus Proffit, and Anak Ko is here. As with her band name Jay Som (means “Victory Moon”, the album title means “my child” in Tagalog. It’s these nuances that invite you into Duterte’s world and gives you a sense of where she’s coming from on these magical trinkets she’s given us. 

Anak Ko is almost nothing like Everybody Works. Sure, there’s still the same hooky dream-pop, hazy at times, and belt worthy choruses. But over the last two years, Jay Som has grown from this DIY pop project to evolve into a force to be reckoned with on the indie circuit. But Everybody Works was a bold statement on purpose, whereas Anak Ko is keeping the tide low, and features Jay Som exploring new territory while melding it to the past. It’s a record about her placement in this world, and each of these poetic notions are a form of escapism. “Devotion” swirls and captivates us with a woozy center that just feels slightly unfinished but still rambunctious enough to not bother anyone. 

“Superbike” shares the most commonalities with her previous album, so much so that it could fit on that record easily. But even at first glance, these tracks seem like a rehash of Everybody Works, now that Jay Som has settled into a niche genre - those assumptions would be wrong. Lyrically this more endearing than Everybody Works, and when choruses like “Superbike” soar, there’s a tenderness to them that wasn’t present on previous works. In addition, Duterte opened the studio up for more collaborations, from Justus Proffit to Vagabon, Anak Ko feels like a breeze beach-chill, where friends gather to just enjoy each other’s company as the tide rolls in. “Nighttime Drive” is the most like this, with its serene outro, and violin strings giving off a soothing melody. 

Anak Ko is a more mature outing for Jay Som, and while it lacks the overall punchiness of Everybody Works, it’s still a remarkable collection of songs that don’t overstay their welcome and represent a growth spurt in Duterte’s songwriting. Even as the closer “Get Well” warms the soul with it’s twangy, country-fried aesthetic, it’s somber tone gives way to such a more accurate and raw depiction of its sole contributor. Duterte’s front and center with Anak Ko, unabashedly exposed, and ready to pushback on any criticisms you may have with her. It’s an introspective record and one that shows an artist completely in charge not only of her music but her emotions as well. 

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