Home Music Jayda G: Both of Us/Are U Down EP

Jayda G: Both of Us/Are U Down EP

Jayda G’s Both of Us/Are U Down comprises those two songs served five ways, and it’s not a simple DJ tool but a full-blooded release with its own emotional microclimates. As its 24 minutes roll on, this quaint little EP starts to take on the grandeur of a classic house long-player, an Alcachofa or Another Side in miniature, each track its own little planet. That we’re listening to variations on the same song becomes moot, and the two remixes that conclude the EP don’t just airlift the hooks onto new beats but expose new emotional weathers.

The EP starts out innocuously enough with “Both of Us (Edit),” whose cheerful piano stabs and brainless hook (“I just want to be with you”—does pop sentiment get any simpler?) are suddenly sucked into an astonishing slowed-down breakdown that should correct anyone who wants to peg Jayda G as another house revivalist. The edit doesn’t take long to build steam, but the full version that comes immediately afterwards burns spliff-slow, the piano chords taking a moment to assemble, revealing chasms in the song that we didn’t notice before. By the time the slow-down rolls around, we’re so immersed in everything else that’s going on we forget it’s going to happen and can experience it for the second time like we’re hearing it for the first.

“Are U Down” is harsher and more somber, “are you down” in this case referring to feeling down rather than being down. (The album cover expresses a sentiment many of us can relate to and may point to a reason why Jayda went out of her way to imbue this EP with classic-rock grandeur: it’s going to be a while before we can hear this music in the club, so the most we can do right now is listen and simply vibe). But as impressive as “Are U Down” is, it’s nothing compared to what comes next: she returns to “Both of Us” for a grand “Sunset Mix,” adding the whale-like backing vocals that so memorably graced her debut Significant Changes and a brand-new hook that totally rejiggers our impression of the song. “Why do you love me?” she ponders, sounding less like a handbag-house diva than Nina Simone wondering why her baby cares for her. Suddenly, “I just want to be with you” becomes an expression of discontent within a relationship rather than a dumb expression of longing that sounds good over jacking house drums.

Jayda G’s idiosyncrasies are well-established by now. She likes to inject inane DJ chatter into the most emotional moments of her songs, so that naked declarations of love jostle up against entreaties to get on the floor and shake your ass. She loves to overdub backing vocals. Most crucially, a softness permeates her work; while this kind of house often has a militaristic heft, Jayda’s music is good-natured and intimate, and when she asks “are you down” it sounds like it’s out of genuine concern. Only the concluding remix of “Are U Down” relies on any kind of steely resolve. As its tough tech-house beat steamrollers ahead, we finally can hear Jayda not as the voice in our ear but a presence behind the boards.

Jayda G is one of the brightest young talents in house. Significant Changes made clear she was an act to watch out for, and Both of Us/Are U Down isn’t a stopgap between that album and the next but a milestone in her development as an artist. Sonically, these tracks don’t depart too much from what she’s made before, but a lot of singer-songwriters would kill to be able to put their audience through the emotional wringer like Jayda does with us here. Dance to it at your leisure, but more likely you’ll want to be like Jayda on the cover, flat on your back, processing it all.

Jayda G is one of the brightest young talents in house.
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I’m Down
  • Jayda G: Significant Changes

    This isn’t some kind of conservationist concept album. …

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