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Jeremy Jay
Slow Dance Charles Ubaghs , April 15th, 2009 08:28

The Jarvis Cockers, Serge Gainsbourgs and Jonathan Richmans of the world appear to be a dying breed in our digital age. Even though we're constantly showered with new artistes, these larger than life figures and their observational eyes, erudite lyricism, and an ability to look like they live their songs have been sadly thin on the ground.

L.A.'s Jeremy Jay may craft something that's altogether more fey and subdued in nature than anything produced by the aforementioned, but Slow Dance, his second LP for US indie stalwart K Records, reveals a young songwriter who looks set to follow an idiosyncratic path for some time to come.

Jay was raised by a French mother, something that seems to have imbued him with a love of Gallic pop. On Slow Dance he offers a modern up-date of Ye-Ye; a strain of early 60s French pop that gave the world a young Françoise Hardy, who sang faux-naif songs like 'Tous les Garçons et les Filles' (All the Boys and Girls), and France Gall, whose Gainsbourg-penned ode to fellatio, 'Les Succettes,'(Lollipops) caused a scandal in its heyday.

Jay may not share in the French master of sleaze's desire to shock, but the Los Angelino generally succeeds by injecting some Modern Lovers pub rock and sedate, new wave synths into his tales of hipper than hip youth and romantic encounters enjoyed beneath the glare of a disco ball. The result is a stripped back, lo-fi sound that attempts to thrust images from the modern world into the context of a vintage Godard film.

This may come across as a terminal case of style over substance – and to an extent, it is – but Jay grasps, like many of the best French songwriters, that there's just as much meaning to be found within an image, a gesture and a hearty 'Yeah,' as there is in the emotional flagellation the Anglo world often demands from its artists. So while Jay may be prone to filling his songs with lyrical gaffes like "Giddy up, Horsey, Giddy up," and what should be cringe-worthy imagery, he makes it work with little more than a clever use of restraint that's coupled to a robust swagger and a heaping dose of conviction.

Jeremy Jay may never appeal to those in thrall to blast-beats and power-chords, but for those in search of some stylish nuance in their pop, well…you get the point.

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