Album Reviews

Jayda G – Guy

(Ninja Tune) UK release date: 9 June 2023

Disco-house grooves combine with a mainstream sensibility on an album dedicated to her father

Jayda G - Guy For the past several years Jayda G has been making her mark with rootsy, vibrant dance tracks that feel more indebted to Larry Levan than any modern house producers. Her second album on Ninja Tune is dedicated to her father, incorporates conventional song structures, and at various points sounds decidedly pop-oriented compared to her previous work.

Jayda is also vocally front-and-centre in a way she hasn’t been before, and the pre-released single Scars demonstrates this with cooing toplines about her father’s rough upbringing (“Paint the bars of the cage but I won’t stay forever / Calluses remain from tearing up all these rules / Now I will not suffer fools”). Accompanying this peformance is the kind of heavy bass and hand percussion one might expect from a funky house record, with some warm organ chords to flesh the arrangement out.

In a musical landscape becoming saturated with disco homages – listen to Dua Lipa’s latest and hear a trend dying – what makes Guy stand out is the attention to detail on the production side. The toms pop out of the mix on Blue Lights, rattling along as if a session musician is spontaneously adding their own flourish to the track, and Your Thoughts evokes a mid-tempo ’80s groove with splashes of reverb and a neon-sign hook (“Your thoughts, my life / They coincide / My thoughts, your life / See how things repeat themselves with time”).

The record is relatively short and features frequent interjections from Jayda’s father between songs, recorded onto tape for maximum retro credibility. The introduction of Heads Or Tails is dominated by said tape playing and fast-forwarding, before breaking into gummy synth chords and vocal loops that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Jessy Lanza record. It’s enough to make one wish that more of Guy sounded like this, but as a palette-cleanser there’s also the dreamy acoustic fingerpicking of 15 Foot, finishing the album on a mellow note.

It is understandable that Jayda G wanted to try something new after the resounding triumph of 2019’s Significant Changes, and her collaborative EP with Fred Again.. the following year will have presented opportunities to move in this direction. There are catchy and effective tracks here, though also a niggling sense that she has turned her considerable talents towards sounding more like everybody else.

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Jayda G – Guy