Jay Som – Anak Ko

Photo of Mt. Rainier from Sunrise and Sourdough Ridge

“Anak Ko” is Jay Som’s great new album. Melina Duterte has a knack for melodies—almost all her songs are super-catchy and tough to let go of once you’ve got them in your head—and she has a wonderful voice and a fantastic way with guitar sounds. That’s the baseline of what to expect with any Jay Som release, since her music is consistently wonderful. “Anak Ko” has a different feel from “Everybody Works” and “Turn Into”—it’s more considered, sometimes a little somber or elegiac, and sounds like a statement from a place where Duterte is taking stock of life. Reading through the album’s lyrics, it’s like she’s reckoning with the last few years—getting out of disappointing relationships, making changes, getting into a situation where she feels more stable and secure. Duterte turned 25 this year, and this album feels like that era of life when you’ve acquired enough life experience to have a better handle on who you are, but you’re not quite satisfied or complacent, you’ve still got aims and ambitions and moves you want to make. “Anak Ko” is a beautiful snapshot, another big work by a big artist.

“Tenderness” (one of my many favorites on the album) is a sweet and smooth groove; it sets off with a faint mechanical beat and some gauzy guitar strumming, then Duterte’s voice enters, singing, “Tell me/Did you fall in at first glance/Do you think you’ll take a chance/Do you think on the weekend I could know,” and then, “Show me/Before you haunt me on the screen.” Later the song emerges from behind the veil after the third verse, when Duterte sings, in full fidelity, “I’m feeling like we’ve just begun/Nothing’s ever good enough/Tenderness is all I’ve got.” She said the sentiments in the song emerge from her feelings about social media, about scrolling on your phone and seeing someone who haunts you. There’s a classic (smooth) rock vibe on this song that I can’t quite place, like a gentler Steely Dan—or maybe Papas Fritas’s song “I Believe in Fate,” and it’s so good and satisfying.

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