|A Delightful Surprise | Posted March 12, 2013
With a handful of accolades in numerous songwriting competitions across the U.S., including the Indie Artist award at Creation NW 2012, the last thing you'd expect when you see Jael Johnson is a 15-year-old hailing from Seattle by way of Montana.
Writing music since she was practically a toddler, the wisdom in Jael's craft and the intensity in her songwriting have been earning her merits in Christian music and far beyond, even earning her an endorsement by the non-profit movement To Write Love On Her Arms.
Jael Johnson's Stay EP is her formal introduction to the music world, sharing several songs that have become favorites with her audience. Citing the diverse acts of Taylor Swift, Fiction Family and Avril Lavigne as her musical inspirations, I was immediately curious to see what on Earth her music sounds like, and what I found was a delightful surprise.
"Grandfather Clock" sets the light, carefree tone of the EP right off the bat, sharing the joys and simplicities of young love. "Fine By Me" offers shades of Colbie Caillat, while lyrically sounding like a diary entry about your average schoolgirl crush.
Bringing down the bubbly pace of the project, "Stay" talks about the pain of a failing relationship that starts off whimsical, but begins to burn due to unspoken uncertainties, coming to the conclusion that restoration is possible if they have the guts to stick it out together. It shows an extraordinary level of maturity in Jael's songwriting: "It's all just fun and games till it turns into twisted faith / So I'll I can ask of you is 'stay.'"
"Sidewalk" ends the EP by following along the same lines as the previous track, only this time, facing a relationship that's already dissolved, coping with the feelings of sadness and confusion that follow. It's written in such a way that the relationship at hand could mirror that of friends, family or anyone in-between. It's a rather melancholy way to finish the project, but again, displays immense depth in her lyrics.
I was taken back by Jael Johnson's Stay EP. Not knowing what to expect, I discovered a rare organic talent with very bright potential. Her delicate yet resonating vocals remind me of acclaimed folk musician JJ Heller, and will certainly appeal to anyone who is a fan of that genre. Most of the songs on this EP are relationship-based, but are penned in such a beautifully human way, that they will strike the hearts of both believers and non-believers alike. The future definitely holds great things for this gifted singer/songwriter.
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