Jay Man Sun

Jay Man Sun

After listening to several songs many times over from an as yet unreleased EP, what can I say about Jay Man Sun and his music? There seems to be a definite treading of old ground in a new way. Inside the realm of alternative pop rock of 2018, that's saying something. The songs are clearly from the heart, but they are often delivered with balls to the wall. You can feel the authenticity and maybe that’s why such a distinctive voice that conjures up the memory of several renowned artists from rock n’ roll beginnings up to more recent times can be enjoyed without comparison, at least not for long anyway. Don't overthink this, but call to mind Bowie’s innovative, eclectic take on pop and rock both vocally and musically but with the classic feel of Tom Petty’s band and solid production providing a common thread from song to song. Recall Scott Walker’s passionate crooning and high-flown drama. Jay Man Sun is doggedly defying current trends, nodding to the past and almost embracing the unfashionable, yet with a firm understanding of what can make anyone lean towards their speakers in 2018, quiet down any present company and turn that s**t UP! To offer further reference for younger readers, this might remind you a little of Jeff Buckley’s vocal fluidity and soul, or the close up slammed and soaring vocals of Muse’s Matt Bellamy. I'm confident that at least one song will have you drawn in and away from such celebrated artists. If you are younger still, the sound will most likely evoke fewer comparisons. Just listen to it, not to me. Jay Man Sun moves effortlessly from touching dulcet tones to perfectly honed screeching, seemingly spitting out the frustrations of life through his voice as he cuts right through the lively often bombastic wall of sound, thickening the ambient space with a creamy Mark Knopfler-ish guitar flourish here and there, topped with a shimmering vibrato arm, punctuating those alluring melodies. It's not all rock and pop foundations though. There's some smooth jazzy piano lurking around and Stevie Wonder's funky, honky clavinet has smuggled it's way in there somewhere, and a snug fit it is too. I warn those of you who need it though; it's very a busy mix a lot of the time. That really is a matter of taste. It’s not often that you won’t be subjected to a bustling back line of solid drumming, retro rock organs, jazzy piano, banjos, that Dick Dale surf guitar sound and of course the distinctive, sometimes even hammed up vocal, the main focus leading you from one moment to the next. Rumour has it that Jay Man Sun plans to release a stripped down live version of these tracks later in the year and will most likely be performing in this way around the globe. You can expect quite a departure in mood, tone and musical approach from one song to the next. However, this is coupled with a delightful cohesion in terms of mix and meaning, attitude and purpose holding it all together; nothing feels out of place when grasping the overall journey. Jay Man Sun is somehow quirky, sentimental, cool, subtle and extravagant all at the same time. Out of context, ‘The Day You Left Me’, could easily be reviewed as an absurdly dramatic love song, almost fitting for the next James Bond theme tune. Then again it might merely be a tongue in cheek ballad just for kicks, not unlike Faith No More’s habit of adding an amusing smooth tune or two to each of their subsequent records since Angel Dust, after the accidental chart success of their version of Lionel Richie's ‘Easy’. Personally it reaches my soft side as a straight up heartrending sentimental account of a lost love. It certainly isn't easy like Sunday morning in terms of it's lyrical reaction to matters of the heart. The song really can lead one to tears, that is if ‘One Of A Kind’ hasn’t done so already. It’s just too close to the bone in terms of that rejection of love that most of us experience one way or another in time. When the next track ‘Turn Me To The Tide’ breaks into a sort of soulful funky jazzy 140bpm hard rock n' roll boogie, you really don't have time to analyse any of the above. Just crank to volume, let it swing and have that four to the floor bass pump any introspection out of you. Get down to this TUNE! Each track is equally strong and you’ll be forgiven for wondering what’s next. It’s as if Jay Man Sun wants every song to be your favourite in a different way, or at least every track needs to be a favourite of somebody in your wider circles. Crowd pleasing or relishing in his diversity without a care? You decide. For me, this is a totally rocking, soulful and dramatic bunch of songs and I can’t wait for more. Bordering on extravagant and playfully theatrical at times, the vocal delivery is never contrived. It would appear that Jay Man Sun has no interest in following the youthful crowd of today, but that doesn’t take anything away from the music as far as I’m concerned. It’s likely the crowd will come to him anyway. This EP is set for an early 2018 release. It's one of a kind.