Los Angeles singer-songwriter Jamie Drake‘s debut album Everything Is Fine on 20 September. Though she has been sometimes referred to as one of the city’s best-kept secrets, it seems that her talents won’t be confined to Southern California much longer. “Allison”, the latest tune from Everything Is Fine places Drake in a rarefied class alongside such writers as Inara George and Eleni Mandell. The tune’s hushed, lullaby qualities belie a narrative that is complex, gripping, and deeply moving. It’s hard to remember a debut release that was this effortless and this charming.
“‘Allison’ was inspired by an encounter I had with a two-year-old by the same name,” Drake recalls. “She wasn’t really speaking yet and did not want to say ‘goodnight’ to a friend and I as we tucked her in for bed. I’ve never mentioned this before, but she reminded me of myself at that age, and it made me sad. It took me some time to speak as well. It may have taken time because I grew up in an environment where I was afraid. There was a lot of moving from place to place, and a lot of confusion and yelling. For a good while, it felt safe for me to cover my ears and stay inside the world in my mind where I would sing to myself.”
Drake continues, “My first songs were born out of this same need to process life’s questions. To me, a songbook was a private journal of material to keep for myself. The world never felt like a safe place for me to be, and so I married a man I barely knew having just turned 21, partly because this issue of feeling safe seemed to be taken care of. Many years later, we decided that this wasn’t a good enough reason to marry, and we very kindly gave each other a second chance at life by putting our marriage to death. The process was extremely sad and painful, but with it came the sweetest gift of life. We were granted the chance to be who we were made to be in the world; something we could only be apart from each other.”
Contemplating the turn in her life, Drake says, “At this point, I had no doubts in my mind about what I was meant to do. Sharing songs in the world, shedding light on the truth and encouraging others by being open about my struggles. I began this journey with joy and a childlike fervor. It didn’t take long however, for me to realize I was pursuing something people normally take a chance on in their 20s, which, I had given to my ex-husband and his career. Thoughts about being ‘too old’ and not having my life together plagued me, and at a certain point, I lost hope. The music business is not for the faint at heart. Luckily, I had been given the gift of a failed marriage and with it, the knowledge that I needed to pursue music because it brought me joy, so I chased after joy like my life depended on it, because it did, and I didn’t give a damn that culture was telling me I needed to be young and beautiful to be acceptable because I came to believe that that is just an ancient lie.”
Returning to “Allison” (the song), Drake offers this: “It’s about taking the time you need to find your voice in life. For me (the ‘ultimate late-bloomer’ as one of my friends has coined me) and for you. One of my dreams in life is to set people free to be themselves because that is why we are here; to be ourselves. I hope that I can encourage others — that no matter what age you are, you can do anything for the joy of it, and perhaps it just might give you more than joy in return.”