words: Brandi Fullwood
Melina Duterte fronts Jay Som, a musical outfit that will leave you nostalgic for a West Coast summer - sunny, bright and flushed, with a mixed aroma of florals and In-N-Out, that some how works. In the nine tracks of album Turn Into, Jay Som conjures a visual mash up of bright prints and pastels cluttering on street sides by intertwining guitars, harmonies and short poems.
The album embodies slow core, fuzzy surf, and dreamy bedroom pop. It's beach music that reminds you of days when getting in the water isn’t necessary, but provides a comfort reflected in the erotic warmth of barefoot ventures through sand. These are the days when heat waves dwindle and summer begins to brush against fall. Lurking beneath the sunny bright finale of a California summer is a reality of fear and insecurity, and Turn Into reveals the devastating truths beneath golden and charming textures.
Opener, “Peach Boy”, is the aural example of moving crushed velvet between your fingers. There is a marriage of both tapping cymbals, warm but fuzzy guitar riffs, and vocals that tread in and out of the classic ethereal sounds of dream pop. The vocals prominent and clear, end with a confession, "Your secret lullaby will pull my strings to hurt my pride / I'm wandering off again.” The lyrics are an ironic pairing to the lively instrumentals, and only in their absence does a marching drum beat and a doowop guitar sound rise to support a song of requited love.
"Unlimited Touch," provides short-lived comfort, its honey bass grooves and hushed incantations acting as a celestial confession on insecurities and heart wrenching endings. The seemingly mundane routine of falling asleep becomes a difficult process, as Duterte sings, "My head sticks out of place / I need to take a walk / I’ll sleep when morning comes.” As the song explores the difficulty of sleeping and confronting feeling better, ideas of hanging with friends are juxtaposed with the grandeur possibility of walking over stars. The track ends with a rush, an instrumental segue that sends the listener into a space-exploring lullaby.
Although Turn Into has a tendency to incorporate ideas of passivity, reflection, and lightness, many aspects of the album deviate and bring varied stylistic choices. “Next to Me” captures several stages of desire, all the while feeling like a dreamy take on grunge. Its expressive attitude captures an enchanted longing for someone. The single is a beautiful example of Duterte's visual poeticism, pulling in imagery and tangible reflections.
Title track “Turn Into” creates an enrapturing hypnosis, inviting listeners into a field of harmless poppies, much like Dorothy wishes she had stumbled upon in The Wizard Of Oz. Across the aural meadows, each song on the album blossoms and dazzles just as the tiny flowers would have, if they had been untouched by evil.
As I reach the end of summer, I will continue to play these songs as reminders of honey dew sunsets and the initial rush of falling for someone. Even in the midst of a Vermont winter, Turn Into, will allow the sunshine to return, and take me back to summer. As we come to an end of heatwaves, Turn Into is a timely essential.