Sarah Jaffe

Bad Baby

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Weaving introspective themes of growth and change into an electropop landscape of ice and sun, Texan songstress Sarah Jaffe continues to evolve on the excellent Bad Baby, her fourth full-length release. It follows 2014's similarly toned Don't Disconnect, an album that seemed to cement her creative direction away from traditional acoustic-driven songwriting to a more sophisticated electronic approach. Her increased reliance on both studio experimentation and collaboration has gelled well with her material, yielding an intricate left-field sound that remains warmly accessible. Recorded in two weeks with co-producers Matt Pence and Scott Solter at Echo Lab near Denton, Texas, Bad Baby kicks off with "Synthetic Love," a slowly building Goldfrapp-reminiscent track of nearly seven minutes that demands some patience to absorb but ultimately sets up Jaffe's overall tone for the album. The 12 songs that follow toy with moods and melodies in an understated way that makes them easy on the ears but deceptively smart. Among the numerous standouts are the pink-clouded "Between," the hooky synth pop of the title cut, and the gentle and sunny "Manifestations," each one bearing subtle layers and enlightened inner musings. Jaffe's knack for slinky midtempo grooves manifests itself on "No Worries" and the excellent closer, "Shit Show," which is one of several tracks to feature some lovely string arrangements by composer/violinist Fiona Brice. Throughout it all, Jaffe seems more confident and in control than ever before, letting her spirit of musical discovery propel her forward while staying attuned to matters of the heart.

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