Having earned critical applause for her melancholy indie-folk, Amy Jay makes a leap forward with her “moving” and “kinetic” debut album, Awake Sleeper, out now.
1. Lucid Dreaming
4. All My Name
5. Inner Critic
7. Bide My Time
The Florida-born, NYC-based singer-songwriter surveys profound emotional terrain, juggling fragments of memory and embedding her observations within a paradoxically lush sonic approach. Exploring the boundaries between acoustic and synthetic, minimalist and ornate, Awake Sleeper echoes a breathtaking cross-pollination of introspective songcraft, surprising textures, and hypnotic soundscapes.
Recorded at Brooklyn’s Mason Jar Music with producer Jonathan Seale (Feist, Fleet Foxes, Aoife O’Donovan), Awake Sleeper marks Jay’s third official project and first full-length release following a pair of well-received EPs – 2016’s Supposed to Be and 2018’s So It Is – that earned her national acclaim and nearly 1M worldwide streams. Seale enlisted a top tier line-up of NYC session players to fill the sonic spaces in Jay’s often sparse songs, including Mike Robinson (Railroad Earth, The Jeff Austin Band) on guitar and pedal steel, drummer Jordan Rose (Cory Wong, Theo Katzman), guitarist Chris Parker, bassist Jeremy McDonald (Kevin Garrett), Andrew Freedman (Henry Jamison) on piano and synths, and award-winning bowed-string instrumentalist Duncan Wickel (Molly Tuttle, Rising Appalachia) on violin and cello.
Awake Sleeper was profoundly inspired by Jay’s day-to-day life in New York City, conjuring its incessant energy, its ambient noise, and constant motion, occasionally quiet but ceaseless in its flow. Jay gave life to her songs with an idiosyncratic sound equally informed by experimental electronica, classical music, and post-rock as it is by traditional acoustic folk songcraft. “It was a conscious choice that the recording elements reflect the lyrical themes, like for example, when we doubled the vocals to mimic emotional duality, or repetitive instrumentation to evoke anxiety or stuckness,” Jay says. “The direction of the music was very much decided by how best to portray these themes sonically.”
Recording of Awake Sleeper wrapped up in February of 2020, which now feels like a distant past. “We had no idea what was coming,” she states. With no ability to tour or properly support the album, Jay decided to sit tight on the recordings. She spent much of 2020 and 2021 refurbishing a beat-up shuttle bus into a road-ready RV, preparing to hit the road as soon as possible. “It’s been a dream for a long time,” she says, “before van life became a trend. I love getting my hands dirty, I’m definitely a creative personality. So the idea of making a tour bus from scratch really appealed to me. Now, after many, many, many hours of books and YouTube and Facebook groups and Reddit, it’s a tiny home. It has solar panels and a roof deck; we could even put a little amp on top and play shows. We can even record as we travel.”
With the release of Awake Sleeper, Amy Jay is looking firmly towards the future, driven to continually push her songcraft towards new terrain while still honoring her remarkable debut album with the attention and self-love it so rightly deserves.
“It’s complicated,” Jay says, “because obviously, I’m proud of this huge, monumental thing that I’m doing. I have to just remember it’s a time capsule, a glimpse into a life before the world crashed, snapshots of memories. We captured what was happening at the time, written in the past, relevant for today.”
Images via One In A Million Media
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