Adding music to poetry
A first listen to Jaye Bartell’s latest work, Kokomo may initially lead one to confusion. The Massachusetts-born indie singer released his fourth album on August 14th, 2020. The album is poetically dense, with lyrical content that speaks louder than the background instrumentals, which in and of themselves also seem to say something.
Kokomo features tracks that each tell a different story, or life lesson, that Bartell has learned through his twenties to the present day. To say that this album is creative would be a colossal understatement. Each detail is carefully developed and meaning is placed into every aspect of creating an album. The title of the album itself represents the Kokomo concept, which discusses the idea of a dream that everyone has but not everyone takes action towards, for they don’t have the time, and the need to “make it.”
His song “Anyone” discusses this the most, Bartell’s singing of a world he created for himself through hard work that is unfortunately quite fragile. “Dear,” like almost every track on the album, is heavily coated in metaphors. In this song, Bartell speaks of anxiety, comparing it to a deer in the middle of the road. Other songs on the album such as “Sky Diver,” “Permission to Pass” and “Someday” focus more on the memories that Bartell has collected on his journey through the years and on the trek to becoming the musician he dreams of being.
Many even speak of love, coming into play during “Too Late,” “Wisteria” and “Baskets.” On these tracks the background instrumentals dominate, sounds of banjos, guitar and mellotron in conjunction with sounds that one would hear in their everyday life, blended and changed in ways that are suited for musical enhancement. Bartell fits these everyday sounds into his music seamlessly, and the usage of them seems to add something meaningful. “No one,” the concluding piece on the album, speaks of the fear that no one will like the music that Bartell is producing and that it will ultimately lead to his failure.
Bartell expresses that despite all of the anxiety that comes with the music industry and wanting to succeed in it, he is engaged with the process of creating music and is in love with it, not wanting to part with the profession; Kokomo shows this.