I first became aware of singer/songwriter Sarah Jaffee as I was making plans for SxSw back in March. She was getting a lot of buzz as a new talent out of Denton, TX and I tried but was unsuccessful in getting us an interview slot. I downloaded her debut full-length, Suburban Nature, and while I didn’t love it, I did see that she was a talented singer and writer. Her newest release, the EP/DVD The Way Sound Leaves A Room, is the first she’s written playing drums and bass, and the added nervous energy makes the record sound fresh and exciting.
The EP kicks off with an amazing cover of Drake’s “Shut It Down.” It’s been a while since I kicked any Drake on my iPod (to be corrected next month when Take Care drops), so I didn’t recognize it at first. It’s a cool take to hear a woman sing the lyrics instead of a man:
trying to take you out girl, hope you’re not too busy
and if there’s nothing wrong, got this little song
for you to get ready to
put those fucking heels on and work it girl
let that mirror show you what you’re doing
put that fucking dress on and work it kind of vicious
Staying true to the source material, the production isn’t too heavy, but effective. Jaffee’s version comes off a bit darker, more natural than the one on Thank Me Later, and I may dare say it’s better than Drizzy’s.
The third track, “Clementine,” is a lush piece of Regina Spektor-ish piano pop that brings some great harmonies between Jaffee and Jaffee singing lead and backup vocals. It’s a perfect song for staring out a window on a rainy day. The lyrics are repetitive, but poignant. Listening to it, I wonder if the name Clementine was picked due to the movie The Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, where Kate Winslet’s character of that name has her memory erased. Maybe. It’s a long shot, but I’m taking it.
“Sucker For Your Marketing” picks up where Liz Phair’s Exile In Guyville left off. This is the most bass-heavy track, and it’s used wisely to drive the song forward with menacing grimness. There’s a nice contrast with Jaffee’s lilting “Oh ah oh” chorus. It’s also, like the previous three tracks and the one following, far too short.
When I first started reading about Sarah Jaffee, I would often see the words “country” or “folk” alongside her name. This couldn’t be farther from the truth on The Way Sound Leaves A Room. I’d put her in the company of Fiona Apple or Aimee Mann over Connie Francis or Dale Evans. Lots of different genres get touched on here, so I really feel like anyone could enjoy it. I know I did. Check it out and get in on the ground floor before Jaffee becomes the next big star.