Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Sarah Jaffe sings on "Clementine," "All that time wasted/I wish I was a little more delicate," and it does sound like it is a real desire. It could actually be her desire to have the name of a variety of an orange and it could be that she really does wish to be more breakable, or in need of gentler care. She's off if she thinks that she needs to or could get any more delicate than she already is. Even saying it though makes us think we've got it all wrong, but we'll get to that later. The Denton, Texas, songstress is of peculiarly high levels of softness, if only for her capacity to feel the pain on both sides of a conversation. She lets herself feel the trauma and tragedies all over the table. It doesn't matter if she's stripes or solids, she gets drop-kicked by every scenario. Everything feels as rough and rugged, when we're talking about the fractures and potholes of love's takedowns. We hear about the men and the women all the same, acknowledging that there's are no separate qualifications for who is getting the worse end of the deal. It's all bad - that is, if there was anything there worthwhile in the first place. If there wasn't, then who cares? No one would write a song about a relationship that wasn't worth a shit. It's not how people work. Jaffe writes songs about relationships that mean even more than that and she gives them to us in need of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. They need pressure applied to them to stop the bleeding. They need blankets to cover them to control the coldness and the shock that they're experiencing at the time. We're witnessing them as their time is running out and Jaffe's presenting all of the sides, wondering how those people are going to get on with their lives once they've left each other's sights for the last time. She plays the complexities into her golden melodies (accompanied here by fellow Denton musician Robert Gomez) and we hear the gasps and the exhaustion of the final kicks. The results that we're seeing in the songs on her album, "Suburban Nature," come from the common occurrences that happen when people get involved with other people. And more so, what we find in her songs are the devastating effects that come from getting to feel what it's like to not see it coming, even while preparing for it to come the entire time. These are songs of people not at all caught off-guard, but cognizant of the clock ticking and ticking, louder and louder. They know what they're getting themselves into and Jaffe provides a terrific account of each of these various situations, letting us see the beautiful vulnerability of people suddenly lonely again, knowing that it hurts. She sings, "Put your hands over my eyes/Happy to be blind/I'll be damned/It's happening again/In minutes we'll see ourselves in a whole new light," giving us an example of what her characters of choice like to feel, firstly and lastly. They seem to come intertwined with one another.
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