It took me exactly one complete listen to completely fall in love with Jamie Nova on Jamie Nova Sky’s latest project, This Is Life, released on July 30th at the Sunset Tavern. Its intimacy is immediate and captivating. When reaching for the bar set by lady rockers, Jamie doesn’t have to touch it; she jumped over it and pulled it higher.
I’ve seen her perform several times, so I had an idea what to expect when I received this music, but I didn’t expect the edgy tenderness of this collection. Take away the instrumentation and the entire album could easily stand alone with her singularly gorgeous voice, but it was produced with a seemingly gentle touch, lightly flavored and with some really beautiful instrumental work by JT Phillips on guitar, Rick Friel on bass and Chris Kiger on percussion. Alone or playing in other bands, each of these four is outstanding, multi-talented and a joy to see and hear. Together, they have created this body of work where their passion for music and their individual craftsmanship is uniquely showcased as a stellar piece of art.
There’s a sweet cover of “Me & Bobby McGee,” which sets Jamie’s voice up for comparison to you-know-who, and something the crowds who love her always expect at live shows; now those who can’t get to a show can experience the classic at their leisure. It’s a nice egg to find on the album and fits nicely into what I interpret as the running theme of the work, which is upbeat, quietly embracing the realities of love and life. My favorite, if I had to choose, is “I Love You,” because of the exquisite guitar work and overall Latin flavor, as well as the yearning swells of Nova’s voice as she declares her love despite what may come.
In “Transitions,” I am reminded of the narrative songwriting techniques of Pink and Lady Gaga. Obviously, this record is not the pop music of those ladies, but the story is in the lyrics, which is one of the things that make their music last beyond a few weeks on the charts. Nova brings to the lyrics a universal presentation which anyone and everyone can understand and feel on their own level.
Recorded and mixed at Studio Litho in Fremont, Seattle, by Floyd Reitsma and mastered by Ed Brooks at RFI in Seattle, this album is a keeper and a glimpse of a great future for this band.