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Slingshot Review

by Timothy Monger

Slingshot is the sophomore album from Winnipeg singer, songwriter, and producer Jeremy Haywood-Smith, who records under the name JayWood. Active since 2015, JayWood earned more-widespread attention after signing with New York indie Captured Tracks and issuing a retooled version of his previously unreleased EP, Some Days. With its mix of jangling-guitar-based psych pop and funky, cyclical rhythms, that EP plays like a stepping stone to the more enigmatic and sophisticated mix he offers here. Reeling from his mother's death in 2019, Haywood-Smith endured a period of soul searching, a mood further exacerbated by the subsequent global pandemic, racial protests, and political upheaval. As a young Black man living in a predominantly white Canadian prairie province, he found himself engaging more deeply with his family's roots and his own personal identity. While writing his next set of songs, he landed on Slingshot as a title, referring to the approach of looking back in order to propel yourself forward. The result is indeed a step forward for JayWood, who comes across with a renewed energy and vigor, especially on springy pop numbers like "All Night Long" and "Just Sayin," the latter featuring fellow Winnipegger Ami Cheon. While his guitar is still present, there is a noticeable shift across the album toward a more electronic, synth-driven sound that suits both his laid-back vocals and eclectic songwriting quite well. On the outskirts of this more diverse approach are intriguing tracks like the deep psych-funk of "God Is a Reptile" and the quirky R&B of "Tulips." As an artist, JayWood is stylistically tough to pin down, and yet his personality runs through each of these 12 cuts which, when stitched together, play more cohesively than one might think. He's taken a leap with Slingshot, and his artistic growth is clearly evident.

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