One night a few weeks back, I left the XPN performance studio and immediately noticed the louder-than-usual power rock jams wafting down the staircase from World Cafe Live’s upstairs stage. The source was JaE the Artist, a regional singer and songwriter playing a benefit organized by Ladies’ Night to help victims of the 2016 Louisiana floods.
JaE has been active locally for a couple years now, and earlier this year released her first LP, The Evolution of JaE. As she describes it, her musical path was indeed an evolution: she grew up in a highly musical household that raised her on soul and R&B. But she also had a strong interest in rock music as well, Aerosmith to Alanis to Lenny Kravitz. Working on the record helped her find a way to fuse those sounds, and you hear it in the live band that assembled in our studio for this week’s Key Studio Session.
Joining JaE are Sunny Dee on Drums and SugarStick Johnson on bass. JaE’s voice is powerful — usually, when I’m in the room as the musicians play, the amplifiers and drums are so loud that I can’t hear the singing over the fray until I get back in the control room, but JaE’s voice carried through with clarity. In the mix we hear riffs, beats, deep basslines and programmed synthesizer accompaniment — and the songs take cues from Pat Benetar as much as Rihanna (listen for the “Diamonds” nod in “Who Knows”).
Most daringly, JaE and the band aren’t afraid to take their time to say what they have to say: “Forgive Me” and “Now I Lay” teeter around the 7-minute mark, while “Who Knows” pushes the 11-minute envelope, and it’s all the awesomer for it. Listen to the set below, grab a free download here, via Soundcloud, and watch a video of “Forgive Me” via VuHaus. For more on JaE the Artist’s upcoming goings-on, keep tabs on her Facebook page.
jae the artist, The Key Studio Sessions