With songs that take their cues from ‘60s pop and Hawaiian folk, The Exotic Sounds of Courtney Jaye falls somewhere between the sock hop and the luau. There’s a bit of countrypolitan twang thrown into the mix, too, a product of Jaye’s time spent in Nashville, and the album’s biggest asset is its ability to jump between cultures with each tune, evoking tropical living one minute and Southern bar culture the next. Tying the disparate package together is Jaye herself, the sort of unsung musical hero who regularly wins the approval of her indie cohorts (Neal Casal, Ryan Adams’ guitarist and an unsung hero in his own rite, gets credit for the album’s cover art, while Band of Horses’ Ben Bridwell joins Jaye for a campfire cover of the Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Sometimes Always”) but has yet to amass a similar following. That’s a shame, since songs like “Don’t Tell a Girl” and “Box Wine” are almost aggressive in their tunefulness, with the former suggesting the glory days of Brill Building pop and the latter setting itself up as an old-fashioned drinking song. There are some pleasant diversions along the way, too; the mostly instrumental “Maru Maru” focuses the spotlight on Jaye’s backup band, and the breezy ballad “Sweet Ride” is far more contemporary than the rest of the record. Even so, The Exotic Sounds of Courtney Jaye is mostly a vehicle for Jaye to create her own retro-leaning world, one in which the Laurel Canyon, Music City, and the Kaua’i coastline are just minutes apart.
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AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey