Everybody Works opens like a magical fairytale - its outset is marked with twinkling, roaring strings; the brief beginning setting the tone for an endlessly stunning listening experience. Jay Som aka Melina Duterte invites us into a dreamworld with each of her releases, but it's on this proper full length debut where the breadth of her talent reaches unmistakable heights. Everybody Works is glorious, capturing all the hallmarks of life - fear, heartbreak, growth, loneliness - into an album of beautiful vulnerability.
The confessions, whispered sentiments and even pinky swears that accompany growing up are found at the pulsing center of an album in which every second is a representation of Duterte. For this LP, she wrote, recorded, played and produced every song. Except for the addition of backing vocals, Everybody Works is completely Duterte and that ownership of material is felt in every track.
Contrasting harsh fuzzy noise with breezy, entrancing vocals, Duterte's goal for the debut was to create a note reminding her that "everybody's trying their best on their own set of problems and goals. We're all working for something." And in dark times such as these, it's a much needed note, a beacon of beaming light to lift us each out the darkness, albeit even for just a few minutes.
From the groovy, slinking of single "Baybee" to the lush and promised pronouncements of "I'm a good kid," on title track "Everybody Works," Duterte brings together the harsh reality of daily life with the soft whisper of recognition. On "(Bedhead)" all is quiet and still, a story of stage fright, loneliness at a time when friendship is needed and a desire for bravery, all unraveling against a backdrop of warped strings. It's one of the album's most sincere moments, knocking your breath out with the hushed power of a thunderous secret. The secrets of Jay Som are exactly what we need right now - an emotional reminder that even in periods where "I cried out for help/no one was there" we're really not alone. We all face struggles and stumble to pick ourselves up. We look for the answers to our battles in friendships, love and the promise of a new day that brings warm sunshine to our face ("For Light"). Everybody Works is powerful and engulfing, it's an experience, a fairytale, and at its conclusion there's a promise that one day it will get better.