Jacob Collier

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In My Room (2016), 5/10
Djesse Vol. 1 (2018), 4.5/10
Djesse Vol. 2 (2019), 5/10
Djesse Vol. 3 (2020), 6/10
Djesse Vol. 4 (2024),

English singer-songwriter Jacob Collier debuted with In My Room (2016), entirely performed and produced by him in his bedroom. The songs are of the most trivial dance-pop genre, whether the compact Woke Up Today or the extended, nine-minute Don't You Know. But it all sounds "algorithmic", as if an algorithm had studied the stereotypes and was spitting out imitations of imitations of imitations.

Collier then began working on a four-volume, 50-song album titled Djesse that was released over a six-year period. Djesse Vol 1 (2018) consists mainly of orchestral pop-jazz tunes, so bland and generic to sound like covers even when they are not. In fact he proved to be mostly a master of the cover (Lionel Richie's All Night Long and the Police's Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic). Otherwise he is imitating the soundtracks of romantic comedies of the 1950s in Ocean Wide Canyon Deep and Disney cartoon music in Djesse, and a whole tradition of sentimental crooners (Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett and Perry Como) in the ethereal nine-minute Once You. Again, the highlight of Djesse Vol 2 (2019) is a cover: a nine-minute a-capella cover of Henry Mancini's Moon River. Emblematic of his bland sophisticated productions is the slow and sensual seven-minute dancehall ballad Lua (a collaboration with Portuguese singer Mariana "Maro" Secca), replete with cocktail lounge piano solo. But for the first time Collier shows that he can also be a true singer-songwriter in the spartan Nick Drake-ian Time to Rest Your Weary Head. Leaving behind his nostalgic revisions of pre-rock pop, Collier adopted the grooves and arrangements of contemporary pop muzak throughout Djesse Vol 3 (2020). Hence ballads like Count the People, In My Bone and especially Time Alone With You that imitate the productions of Max Martin, the Neptunes, Timbaland, etc. Among the least derivative batch, one can single out the sleepwalking He Won't Hold You and especially Light it up on me, a cubistic deconstruction of the very pop muzak that he has been imitating. The singles Never Gonna Be Alone (2022) and Little Blue (2023), a duet with Brandi Carlile that sounds like a Christmas carol, were the introduction to Djesse Vol 4 (2024).

(Copyright © 2023 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )