If modern electronic music may have seemed too synthetic or cold, Jayda G‘s tracks and selections proved an antidote. Drawing from classic house, disco, soul, and rhythm and blues, the Canadian DJ and producer quickly established a name for herself, bringing life back to the party with irresistible tunes and infectious energy. On Guy, she takes a more reflective tack.
Opening with a taped recording of Jayda’s father speaking of his diagnosis and the desire to document his life, it’s clear that Guy will not be a typical collection of dancefloor cuts. Weaving her father’s reflections with her songs, the album seems to pay tribute to the man and offer responses to his words, recorded before he passed away when Jayda G was just ten.
Jayda G has never been afraid to share herself with her audience. While some DJs and producers have favored mystique or even anonymity, Jayda has instead appeared front and center, dancing and feeling the music at her live shows or putting herself in her videos, often with home footage. Still, it’s one thing to share your joy with strangers and quite another to share your pain.
Reverb-laden, nightly “Blue Lights” finds Jayda G willing herself to continue despite her loss. “When I turn to your door, and I’m locked in the cold, yeah, I need to go on,” Jayda sings before revealing a little of her escape out of sorrow and how in going “to the capital, I found my center.”
As the title suggests, “Scars” delves further, exploring Jayda’s feelings of anger and powerlessness in the face of death, which “wants me to lay”. Similarly to the other tracks on Guy, it’s a juxtaposition of emotional, introspective lyrical content and upbeat, even summery-sounding house. It’s catchy too, with a chorus of “ooh, oohs” against Jayda’s refrain of “I’ve got scars”.
Jayda certainly has an ear for melody and hooks, as the highlight “When She Dance” proves. With its thick bass, Moodymann-esque groove, bubbly synth line, and joyous chorus of “You’re going to lose your mind when she dance, dance, dance,” it’s difficult to imagine doing anything else.
Guy isn’t perfect. While the production is flawless, Jayda G’s vocal chops are not always the strongest, sometimes sounding a bit weak and flat against the beats. This would not necessarily be an issue if her voice was not as prominent as it is across the album, and while it makes sense from a personal perspective, and given the subject matter, it lets the music down on more than one occasion.
Guy doesn’t go as deep as one might hope despite a strong opening. For instance, songs like “Meant to Be” and “Circle Back Around” sound fabulous but thematically do not reveal much beyond a desire for stability and self-actualization. Perhaps it is unfair to judge the album on these terms; dance music is, by nature, about dancing rather than storytelling. However, for work this personal, it still feels like a missed opportunity.
Guy is an admirable and occasionally affecting project that balances personal vulnerabilities with uplifting and life-affirming music. Sounding both classic yet fresh, refined yet vibrant, Jayda G continues to grow as a producer and DJ with a sophomore effort that is both a reflection and a celebration.