Even amid the new and unfamiliar sounds of "Glorified High," Sarah Jaffe settles in and makes herself at home.
Even amid the new and unfamiliar sounds of "Glorified High," Sarah Jaffe settles in and makes herself at home. Dylan Hollingsworth
Song: "Glorified High"
Artist: Sarah Jaffe
CD: The Body Wins
The role played by a producer in the recording studio is often nebulous. They can be hands-on, tinkering with every sound and at times even performing on the recordings, or they can adopt a more indirect approach, simply offering verbal guidance from the control room. Legendary rock producer Rick Rubin has been known to spend most of his days in the studio sprawled on a sofa, dispensing vague pearls of wisdom like some sort of record-geek Buddha. Rather than sticking to one approach for all artists, Texas producer John Congleton lets the needs of the project dictate his involvement. For Sarah Jaffe's latest record, The Body Wins, it sounds as if Congleton rolled up his sleeves and got his hands dirty, because his signature sounds are all over the album.
For Jaffe, The Body Wins marks a considerable departure from her previous work. Throughout an EP and her first full-length album, Jaffe presents herself as a promising young singer-songwriter with heavy country and folk influences. Before recording her latest album, though, she decided to adopt a new approach. After buying a bass guitar and a drum set from a pawn shop on a whim, she began to focus more heavily on rhythm, constructing songs around drum parts and simple melodies instead of the more ornate style she'd previously favored. With this new sound driving her process, Congleton was a perfect candidate to produce The Body Wins. He's known for his skill in arranging and recording both live and programmed drums, as well as his knack for balancing pretty, delicate sounds with darker, ragged textures.
In the first single from The Body Wins, "Glorified High," Jaffe and Congleton bounce back and forth between spare, restrained verses peppered with undulating drum loops and a chorus densely layered with crackly, overdriven bass and chirping synthesizers. There's a moment in each of the verses where Jaffe's voice hovers in the same range as a fluttering, looped sound, to the point where the two sound almost indistinguishable. Even when up to her neck in new and unfamiliar sounds, Jaffe settles in and makes herself at home.