Consisting of Jack Davey and her production partner, Brook D’Leau, the eclectic J*Davey pairing has been bubbling in the underground for a few years thanks to some strikingly well-constructed bootleg releases. For those just joining the revolution, the double-disc (via Warner Brothers) titled The Beauty in Distortion/Land of the Lost is a heaping dose of what J*Davey is all about: a hard-to-classify soul/hip-hop/electronic/new-wave act that throws the rules out the window. But what the album really showcases is that behind the buzz is a band with real musical talent that bridges the divide between cutting-edge soul and progressive hip-hop.
What is so interesting about J*Davey is how fully formed their sound is even while it remains in flux and experimental. Jack Davey’s gruff yet feminine vocals are often less about singing and more about a stylized rhyming, yet it works on every level. She can gel with Price-style future funk (“Mr. Mister”), sexy come-ons (“No More”) and hip-hop swagger (“Camera”). The songwriting is complex and layered, and the productions are full of off-kilter beats, trippy electronic percussion and plenty of other effects.
Where the Beauty in Distortion is a primer for the J*Davey sound, The Land of the Lost comes off as a full-on opus. Using the future soul template of their first tracks, the duo works with a variety of esteemed collaborators such as ?uestlove, Phonte of Little Brother, Kardinal Offishall, and Pacific Division to expand their vision. Gritty hip-hop (“Slayers”), interplanetary dancehall (“Rock the Dancehall”) and seductive new wave (“Valley of Love”) power this second, more expansive collection. But despite the experimentations, J*Davey sound best when reshaping the future of modern soul on tracks like the slinky “Just Because” and the slow-burning electronica-laced “Finer Things.”