The days are getting longer and I’m getting more restless. Weekdays are easier due to working for an “essential company” which aids in me keeping with some sort of schedule with getting up and going to work but the weekends are painful. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the time at home and it has given me plenty of time to get settled into my new house but that’s the only thing settling about it. The crippling anxiety of not knowing when all this madness will end has me in my head more often than not and because I can’t go to a show to help with it, I can only dig into my stack of albums to review and hope that the music will sooth my soul. Enter JØUR’s 2018 release, ‘Chiaroscuro’.
I was instantly captived by the voice that kicks off opening track “Black Hole”. Hauntingly beautiful with a sense of dark hidden behind an almost pop songstress facade, I didn’t know what I was in for but knew it was going to be good. The voice belongs to Jourdan Myers (the person behind the nominer JØUR) and in takes the forefront in this song and majority of the ten song album. Although you can hear many instruments in the background, they all take the back seat to JØUR’s beautiful voice in the perfect way. They are just there enough to keep the song moving along but allow Jourdan to really take the reigns and where she takes “Black Hole” is a very long and twisty road that I hoped would never end.
“Black Hole” ends with a sense of power but launches right into “One More Night” which starts with a more classic indie-pop vibe. The contrast between the two songs makes the switch a bit jarring but kept me intrigued and on my toes. It also proved the biggest point I want to make in this review- JØUR is more than just a pretty voice. Stylistically she is all over the place and the only constant is her clear talent. The album moves quickly onto “American Nightmare”. JØUR’s voice is a sort of aggressive whisper at the beginning which draws you in with ease. Even as the infectious beat comes in from the drums, her voice continues with a sweet-song vibe with this hidden darkness that I can’t quite put my finger on. Although this song is fairly simplistic sounding and has all of the makings of a pop song which is not typically my thing, the swells of emotion are unbelievable making it a standout song on an already standout album.
The beginning of “Hollow Horse” is easily my favorite part of this entire album. It seems to showcase the darkness of JØUR’s voice that you know is there all along yet somehow stays hidden. A bit creepy, I love the way you distinctively hear the point at which the darkness in JØUR’s voice is replaced by the pop songstress vibe that is laid out on previous songs before going back to this almost broken down carousel type darkness. That darkness is repaced by a sense of coziness as the album moves on to “The War Inside”. “The War Inside” is the type of song that had me just sitting back at my desk and sipping on my fourth cup of coffee. If you’re looking for a sense of calm in all of the craziness going on in the world right now, this song is for you.
“Danger Game” is one of those songs with an infectious beat that makes it impossible to sit still while listening to. I instantly heard this song as a perfect single to help make JØUR’s name a household name. It has a little bit of everything in it- passion, talent, pop tendencies, a soulful vibe, I mean, honestly this song has everything and instantly became a favorite on the album for me. Again, with the stark differences between songs, it’s a bit of a shock as the next song, “Revolution” starts playing after “Danger Game” but it’s a welcomed and almost unsurprising shock at this poing. That pop vibe laid out in “Danger Game” is instantly replaced by a more singer-songwriter feel full of passion and heart. This song gave me KT Tunstall meets Halsey vibes which should not work together but somehow JØUR pulls it off flawlessly.
The beginning of “Cut” is powerful which is a constant throughout this ten song album but there’s something different about this power. It commands you without your permission. It makes you feel something and even though I can’t seem to put my finger on what that is, it’s a beautiful moment on this album. The way JØUR’s voice dances over the instrumentation is goosebump inducing during this song. Her voice never gives in, never falters, and definitely makes “Cut” another one of my favorite tracks on this album. The genius of “Cut” is followed up with another stark change in mood and vibe as the album continues on to “Slip Away”. Although completely different than “Cut”, the way JØUR’s voice moves easily and intentionally through sliding notes and punctuated words is flawless and a thing of true beauty.
All good things must come to an end and JØUR’s ‘Chiaroscuro’ definitely ends in the best way possible. Although the last track on the album, “Wandering” still brings in new elements not yet heard on the previous nine songs. The vocals in this ending track are the perfect blend of everything that was layed out on the other songs yet sounds unlike any of the other songs. There are moments throughout this song where JØUR’s voice is fused together with different vocal effects that are absolutely stunning and something I wish had been prevelant throughout the album but, at the same time, that’s the magic of this album. You think you’ve heard it all and you already love it all but then, on the last song, she manages to add something in that you weren’t expecting and now want more of. To call this album captivating and intriguing would be an understatement and as the final note of “Wandering” was left lingering in my living room, I couldn’t help but hit play again and listen to the full album again, and again, and again, and…
We are all going a little crazy with everything going on and if you think you aren’t then you are probably lying to yourself. Some of us are without our normal coping mechanisms which is making this time even harder but thankfully there are albums like ‘Chiaroscuro’ by JØUR that ease the stress and turmoil if only for a little bit.
My Favorite Track(s): “Danger Game”, “Wandering”
Chances Of Getting A Noise Complaint While Listening To In An Apartment: 4.9 out of 10
For Fans Of: Calmness; Indie-Pop; Something Familiar But Yet Completely New and Different
Daydream-ability: 8.3 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Artie laid right under my feet; Autumn slept upstairs on my bed
My Overall Rating: 4.0 out of 5
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