Quirky, sophisticated, intense, poetic, and brave, are just a few of the terms I’d use to describe the music of singer-songwriter, JAD. Throughout his half-hour performance at Irene’s Pub on Saturday afternoon, he silenced the crowd several times with his array of emotionally charged songs. He showcased a few tracks from his debut solo album Still Life, released in July.
Armed with his acoustic guitar, JAD began with a three-quarter timed minor music box melody called “Apathy.” He would give us the first sample of his dramatic textural formula where he moved from tenderly sung verses to belting out the latter half of the song in a higher octave. He then looped a repeating progression both instrumentally and vocally, which created a thick whirl of choral sound before removing the layers one by one until there was nothing but dead silence in the room.
There were no two songs even remotely the same. “These Days” surprised me with its dreamlike quality and jazz chords, which he played on distortion-laced electric guitar. Another called “Knuckle Sandwich” had a very Beatlesque melody with lovely descending progressions and emotional vocal surges. This song’s dramatically contrasting flavours perfectly conveyed its dysfunctional theme. He ended on a single strong note that again hushed the room. One entitled “Lydia” moved me with its swaying waltz beat, his higher vocal register swoons, and looped counter melody creations.
The half hour had already ended, but the crowd pleaded for one more. In attendance was his mother who asked for “Don’t You Care About Me Now?” He strapped on his electric, threw on the distortion, and tore into a minor-chorded smouldering rock number that seared in his heavy vocals during the chorus. He worked the song into a frenzy before coming back down to finish in a quiet whisper. Hands down my favourite of the set.
JAD has a daring way of expressing himself as he moves from heart wrenching tones, breathy close-to-the-mic tenderness and strong falsettos, to leaving the audience hanging on a single belted note. He dished it out in spades… and we loved it all.