I’m delighted to say that, when I write these reviews, every so often I’ll have an artist read, comment or share what I wrote about them. Though I’ll never personally know if there’s an agent or a promotions guy breezing through a Google search, I feel like more often than not, it’ll be the actual artist whose getting some feedback, and I also hope it’s received in the way it’s intended; from one music lover to another. Jay Ollero was the first artist I officially reviewed when I started working for The Noise Beneath the Apple®, and though I liked his EP The Black and White Sessions, I thought it was a ‘close but no cigar‘ moment. I noted he was “too calming” and even a little bit over produced. However, his newest EP, The Velicata Sessions, answers every criticism I previously had. With sure-fire hits like “She’s Gone” and “You’ll Never See It That Way”, Jay Ollero produces his most enjoyable and lively work so far, and it should be enjoyed by every casual fan and diehard listener with the same passionate enthusiasm, in which he obviously created it.
The album starts with such a dancing fire, I had to double check the artist. Yeah, it was Jay Ollero, the same guy whose last album made me feel like I was taking a warm bath; and now he was making me dance! “She’s Gone” and “I Won’t Cry” are great starting points on the album; they are energetic, they are fun, and they are characterized by this cool vibrant energy that was new to me. Jay is anything but routine in either the delivery or execution of his latest work. “Let Me In” and “Head Spin” are tender ballads that are low-key and intimate, and work perfectly with Jay’s voice. It was great to hear him play with that; either something quick and up-tempo that almost resembles rapping, or something slow and lovely where Jay gets to play around a little more vocally; they are all winners on this EP. The stand-out effort for me, was the final track, “You’ll Never See It That Way”. Accompanied by a violin and a bit of minimalist guitar, it’s Ollero’s best work vocally and the best composition of the album. Reminiscent of a bride and groom’s dance at a wedding, it tells a very sad story, and it’s heart wrenchingly beautiful. I’d recommend listening to it twice, though, because it’s damn near impossible to just concentrate on the words with that violin underneath.
In the whole album, I have only one grievance; Jay can’t seem to give up the echo effect. While for most of the album it’s forgivable (he’s learned to make it work and not be distracting), songs like “Like a Soldier” would’ve been better with different vocalists backing him. Yet in saying that, I also have to play devil’s advocate and say that it’s true to what he’s doing; he’s somewhere between Jason Mraz and Toby Keith, and there’s not room for another voice. Though I’m not quite sold on the style, it is something that’s authentically Jay, and I’m going to accept that, because it’s not near big enough of an issue to make me stop listening. It’s so beautiful that I don’t have to qualify the reasons why I’m listening to it. It would take a lot to damage an album this well put together. Ollero explores different topics, plays around with his words, but doesn’t stray too far away from what made me like his work thus far. He just grew so much in such a short time, that I am left, not only surprised, but pleasantly persuaded to take up residence in the ever growing land of ‘Ollero Fandom‘.
We filmed this last year at Hotel Cafe in Hollywood. Jay Ollero and original music; Sprung, off his Black & White EP:
About Heather Jacks
Vixen of Vocabulary who likes to wax poetic about the world of street art, music,busking and all things indie. She has earned two college degrees, traveled extensively and written three books. She is currently finishing the multi-media project, The Noise Beneath the Apple Art-Style Book, to be released in NYC, Spring 2013.