I don’t recall if I’ve ever broached this topic here before, but I have a strange aversion to solo artists. And not for any real logical reason — or at least none that turns out to be accurate.
Whenever I see that an act is just one person, I immediately picture some dude or dudette strumming an acoustic guitar and singing in a sparsely populated coffeehouse somewhere.
And when I see that someone is a singer/songwriter, I often lump them in with all the rest of the dime-a-dozen lot and move on to the next act. Part of that is that I assume a solo artist’s sound is very limited and not nearly as expansive as that of a band.
Now, obviously, I realize that perspective is very ignorant and more than a little naive. But I can’t help it. And because of it, I’m sure I’ve missed a lot of great artists.
But one that managed to make it through my “rigorous” filter is Sarah Jaffe. The 26-year-old songstress from Denton, Texas blends a mostly folk-pop sound with the occasional electro or rock influences — particularly as of late — into an enchanting mix of sounds that’s more powerful than anything at your local coffeehouse.
The above track is the standout from her debut full-length, 2010’s Suburban Nature. It displays how well Jaffe is able to add depth and complexity to all of her songs. Other solid tracks from the album are “Before You Go”, “Better Than Nothing”, “Summer Begs”, “Pretender” and “Watch Me Apart”.
An alternate version of “Clementine” — one that’s piano-based and much more soulful — can be found on the 2011 EP, The Way Sounds Leaves a Room. Also included among the eight tracks are a great cover of Cold War Kids’ “Louder Than Ever” and one of Drake’s “Shut It Down”.
Toward the end of that release, Jaffe starts to show signs of a transition to a more electro sound. And she brings that home on her sophomore full-length, The Body Wins, which came out this past April.
That’s the first single, and, in addition to a great video, it shows a much edgier side to the one-time folkster. Admittedly, I’m not as big a fan of this new sound. But it’s not necessarily bad. In addition to the above song, another solid track on here is “Talk”.
Jaffe played SXSW this year and has toured with some decent acts. With any luck, she’ll be able to cultivate a larger audience over time.