4 out of 5
Label: Sargent House
Produced by: Emma Ruth Rundle and Sonny DiPerri; Warren Gray; Kevin Ratterman
Featuring some of the best, richest, most emotive songs to date by either artist, Emma Ruth Rundle’s / Jaye Jayle’s split release – three tracks from each – only really suffers from, like, not being a great match.
It’s odd, because I would have matched these two together: Ruth’s reverbed, moody folk; Jayle’s rootsy, rock-tinged synths. But as this crossroads, Rundle chooses the theme of separation and loss to step into a more forceful version of her persona, while Jaye Jayle becomes oddly, like, upbeat on 2 out of its 3 tracks, leading to a kind of swerve where one’s focus – ERR’s – is more sad and reflective; the other’s – Jayle’s – more aggressive. While that doesn’t immediately signal an imbalance, it doesn’t feel like this was exactly planned (even if it was), so it’s like listening to two separate EPs.
That said, I’d go back to where I started: this is some of my favorite work from either artist. Emma’s tracks are all Mazzy Star-swirl, but with the edginess inherent in Rundle’s style, versus Star’s more fragile presentation. She owns this odes to separation, and the album credits of ‘banshee like intonations’ and ‘depth charged bass’ are absolutely on point, as produced to cave-filling waves of emotion by Rundle and Sonny DiPerri. It’s telling when even an acoustic track – Hand of God – redone from Marked For Death and perfectly fitting here, carries as much weight as full band tracks.
Jayle begins in seemingly similar territory, suggestive of mindful sequencing, but when the more upbeat, twang-y hook of About Time You Came To Me kicks in, it feels off. Thankfully, you don’t mind once the song gets going: a biting, rather aggressive relationship track. Unnecessarily continues this trend of catchiness (this is much more accessible stuff than what Jayle started with or would follow this with), and also of Evan Patterson’s minimalist writing style, which somewhat pales next to Rundle’s more descriptive narratives, but fits for the music. And then the group brings it home with closer Hope Faith County, which finally syncs up with ERR on all accounts: it’s a sadder tone, and a much richer story, also musically signaling the more stripped down, forthcoming direction of the group.
Again, separately, each artist’s offerings are excellent, and should majorly satisfy fans of either. And there is still tonal crossover. But when each set is put together as an EP, it’s a slight mismatch, and begs some comparisons that cause criticism where it might not apply if listened to separately.