Lisa Jaeggi - Epic Epic
2011, Modern Vintage Recordings
Lisa Jaeggi is a New York City-based singer/songwriter originally from Silver Spring, Maryland. Finding her way to New York after college to pursue her musical dreams, Jaeggi has become a force in the Indie music scene in Brooklyn and beyond with her original mix of folk, pop, soul and hip-hop. On July 5, 2011, Jaeggi releases her debut album, Epic Epic, on New York's own Modern Vintage Records.
Epic Epic opens with gentle folk/rock cadence of "Whether He Knows", which is commercial enough to perhaps garner serious licensing attention, but stripped down enough to have an anti-pop sheen. "Come Hell Or High Water" is a personal manifesto for making the most of life. The low-key arrangement allows Jaeggi's dark, soulful alto to reign supreme here, although the dynamics of the vocal line aren't, perhaps, what they might be. "Menlike Gods" is one of the first songs Jaeggi wrote after moving to New York, and expresses frustration with the actions of power brokers, politicians, and in particular, then-president George W. Bush. Although dated at this point in, Jaeggi's political and spiritual observations carry weight in light of the events of the day.
"Oh Lady You Shot Me" is a treatise on expectations, awareness and relationships. Addressing such classic relationship themes as fate and timing, Jaeggi waits for the one she wants. The song is like a personal diary entry, written poetically and sung with a quiet urgency born of patient expectation. "Empirical Science" utilizes a talk/sing style while detailing Jaeggi's efforts at moving forward in the big city. It's an acknowledgement of the realities of life set to a vibrant and peppy-yet-low key folk/pop arrangement. If there's a definitive single on the album, this song is it. "All Over Now" is a melancholy folk recitative on the passing of a relationship. Jaeggi sounds like a guitar-based Fiona Apple here, complete with a sort of pouty fatalism. "Heartache" is a song of mixed messages and missed intentions; melancholy in mood. The song plays like a 1960's pop ballad, adding in flamenco garnishes on guitar. Jaeggi says goodnight with the most optimistic song on the album, "All The Good". It's a celebration of the goodness that remains in people even when all else has been forgotten, and the delicate balance of the human heart. Jaeggi falls prey to the use of redundant musical phrases to fill space here, but the base of the song is a solid listen.
After listening to Lisa Jaeggi's demo recording last year, it's hard not to expect big things out of her debut album. Most of those expectations are met. Jaeggi is a plus songwriter with a distinctive talent with words, doling out intelligent dialectics on politics, religion, social justice and human relationships in neatly crafted folk/pop arrangements. What are missing are the outer bounds of Jaeggi's dynamic personality. The elements of persona apparent on her demo recording have been rounded and smoothed this time around in the studio. Consequently, the power of Jaeggi’s songs is blunted at the hands of production. Epic Epic is a solid debut album from a highly talented songwriter and performer, but one can't help but think that in the hands of a different producer it could have been much more.
Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Lisa Jaeggi at www.lisajaeggi.com or www.myspace.com/lisajaeggi. Epic Epic is available from Amazon.com as a CD or Download.