Cover of Jaywood's album, Slingshot
Royal Mountain Records • 2022

JayWood’s goal with Slingshot was to build momentum and move towards finding his authentic self. Mission more than accomplished.

JayWood’s last release was 2021’s Some Days EP, which was a re-recording of his 2015 EP of the same name. The original Some Days was born at “a time of compounding transitions” for producer/songwriter Jeremy Haywood-Smith, which is not all that dissimilar to the origin story behind his latest JayWood album, Slingshot. This time, Haywood-Smith narrows his focus to one specific twenty-four-hour period instead of multiple days. He builds a conceptual narrative arc exploring identity, childhood, and religion in the face of split-second events that invariably alter the course of our lives going forward.

Haywood-Smith explains that losing his mother in 2019, the onset of pandemic-related lockdown, and the myriad social crises that occurred in its wake left him longing for some sense that life would begin moving forward again. Starting with the title, Slingshot — “The idea of looking back to go forward” — Haywood-Smith drew on his personal experiences as a Black person living in predominantly white Manitoba, his family history and cultural roots, and a deep love and understanding of pop melodies and idiosyncratic dance beats for his loose concept album. The day kicks off with “God is a Reptile,” a jazzy number with wobbly rhythms that sound held together by masking tape (a good thing!) that finds Haywood-Smith’s avatar feeling uncomfortable in their skin and looking for a way forward that feels authentic and natural. 

Which, in retrospect, is exactly what he’s doing. JayWood’s sound is nothing if not original and genuine, a hybrid blend of neo-funk, jazz, psychedelic pop, and hip-hop that’s like biting into a summer peach: sticky, sweet, and soul-quenchingly satisfying. “All Night Long” is the kind of dancefloor-filling number you can play on repeat all night long without raising the crowd’s ire. The slow groove of “Is It True (Dreams Pt. 3)” is seductive without sounding sedentary and stale. By the time you get to “Tulips,” all genre comparisons get thrown out the window, as JayWood is now firmly in a lane all his own. Unlike its namesake, there’s more than one opportunity for Slingshot to hit its target. Over a dozen tracks, JayWood lands most, if not all, of the musical shots he’s taking. If the goal was to build momentum and move towards finding his authentic self, then mission accomplished.

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