by Sam Doucet
There is perhaps no cliché more prominent in music reviews than the one of the artist who refuses to be pigeonholed into one genre. Well, dear reader, that cliché is alive and well with Jeremy Haywood-Smith, aka Jaywood’s new album Slingshot, a dreamy and dynamic collection of musings that represent his first full-length release since 2019’s Time. It’s a deeply moving record that is the result of a tumultuous few years for Jeremy, with personal and global events giving him much to reflect on musically.
Listening to Slingshot is like playing “Eclectic Songwriter Bingo.” Those who’ve listened to Jeremy’s previous output won’t be surprised to hear shimmering synths, lilting vocal harmonies, and the occasional well-placed hip-hop guest spot. Right off the bat, the whimsical electronic intro leads into the first song, “God Is A Reptile,” a low-key, funky number with a beat that shuffles along subtly before exploding into a flourish of psychedelic splendour. “Just Sayin” is reminiscent of fellow genre-hopper Bartees Strange, blending carefree indie-pop with subtle nods to disco, synth-pop, and garage rock. A few songs later, “Shine” offers a distinctly Tribe-tinged laid-back hip-hop cut bolstered by the appearance of guest vocalist McKinley Dixon.
Presented as a concept album that takes us through Jaywood’s mind from dawn to dusk in one day, and as alluded to earlier, he bares his personal and musical self unreservedly. Some lyrical ideas are more readily decipherable than others, but two disparate yet complementary themes stand out: grief and growth. Slingshot is a demonstration of Jaywood taking stock of a transformational period in his life and taking those experiences with him going forward. We’re fortunate to witness an artist that can turn the arduous side of life into something so inspiring.