It’s a new year, a new me and that means I’m on the hunt for new music. While I may not be ready to return to the dreary world of essays and deadlines, I recently stumbled across singer/songwriter Emma Jayne whose music has made the transition back to class much more bearable.
Sounding like the lovechild of Jason Mraz and Sara Bareilles, Jayne utilizes her ukulele and a cappella skills to create her own unique style. Jayne gained her start on YouTube and is still producing videos for her 7,000 subscribers, with just 570 monthly listeners on Spotify currently. Despite her lack of recognition from popular media, Jayne’s lyrics never stray from musings on finding herself, being fine on her own and traveling on her own individual journey.
Her most recent EP, Oh What a Life, was released in 2014 and opens with “Connie,” a happy-go-lucky tune guaranteed to turn your bad day around. “Connie” primarily consists of upbeat ukulele strumming and whistling, sounding like a summer song in the midst of this drizzly winter. (Seriously, what is the deal with rain in January?) It speaks to idealizing another person and stepping outside of your comfort zone when Jayne sings, “I’m just like her, besides one tiny, little thing / I write my songs and play them / But Connie really sings.”
A strangely syncopated and piano-based song, “Rich Love” is heavily reminiscent of Regina Spektor. Jayne reflects on her past loves and what she wants from the future, singing, “I want a rich love / That you can’t see in the movies.” The next song, “Dialogue with God,” is a bare and honest account of all her wrongdoings. With only her voice and her ukulele, it is short and sweet, forcing you to reflect on what your own internal dialogue entails.
“Tandem Bike” is upbeat and jazzy, featuring self-empowering lyrics like, “So I’ll put on my high heels / Baby, I will learn to walk,” and “Tandem bike? / I’m fine on my own,” to encourage the listener to make decisions to benefit her own happiness. Rapper Hologram Kizzie features on a verse that only adds to Jayne’s liberating foundation. The song finishes with Jayne singing a cappella, showing off her whimsical and charming voice.
“Ten Twenty Nine” slows things down and speaks of a true love without reverting to unreachable ideals. It is an honest account of her own experiences when she reminisces, “’Cause you tell me when I’m out of line / You see through me when I’m doing just fine.” Backed only by her piano and a violin, Jayne showcases her voice on this ballad.
The closing song, “Oh What a Life,” opens with swelling violins before fading to simple vocals and a ukulele. Featuring stripped down versions of the instruments heard in the opening song, “Oh What a Life” brings the listener full circle. She looks to the future without losing sight of the past, singing, “I remember there’s tomorrow left for you and I to waste / Then I smile, then I swear that I grow wings.” Raw and pure, Jayne’s closing track is a poignant way to end the EP.
While Emma Jayne may not have the most subscribers or be the most popular, Oh What a Life speaks to universal experiences without feeling clichéd and emphasizes empowerment and happiness. And in the end, what more could you really need?