From Ghana to San Diego, Jay James is a multi-instrumentalist producer with influences spanning an impressive range of genres. He has categorized his latest album as R&B: When All is Said and Done. After listening though, unexpected echoes of classical, hip-hop, international, and jazz music are evident throughout.
I was surprised that out of 14 tracks there are only two with vocals— an atypical setup for an R&B project where vocals are usually central. The main structure of the album is laid out with soft piano, but there are hints of flute, saxophone, and different brass instruments spattered throughout. A clear example of this (as well as a strong highlight on the project) is the 8th song "Anxious." It features instruments that ebb and flow, each having a moment of clarity on the reverberating lo-fi backtrack.
The overall sound on the album feels carefully crafted and personal. Some of the other high-points are the shorter interlude tracks "Mourning Prayer" and "Bedtime Prayer." Both are around a minute long and devoid of lyrics; they convey potent fleeting moments of emotion. The occasional impressive vocal additions from Phabo on two of the tracks are a nice touch, but the album would definitely still be impactful without them. The project, which is self-composed, produced, mixed and mastered, also enlists help from Thomas Frye (guitar), Isaiah Davis (sax/flute), Jesse Aaron (guitar), and Julian Davis (trumpet/flugelhorn). James spoke on the multi-faceted nature of his music, saying he "creates lush and cultivating R&B music influenced by [his] environment, current events and musicals styles from all over the world." When All is Said and Done is a perfect representation of this and a great introduction to the rest of Jay James' work.