jj draper - heights
JJ Draper is one of those artists who make music way beyond his years and it doesn't seem fair to the rest of us musicians who don't have superhuman abilities. The songs on his exceptional album Heights were recorded when he was between 17 and 21 years of age. His lyrics are equally as impressive as his songwriting. For example, one of his lines is “God Bless he sees the sun it starts its rise, Out on a hard track, Picking patterns from the shadows, That nameless trees above him move to cast Now a full clap, A flash of light and sky is bleedin' And only fools would cower underneath a bower.” Someone this young has no right to be writing stuff this good.
The music is full of emotion and could be compared to the melancholy and beauty brought to us by artists such as Elliott Smith and Bon Iver. The guitar work is good but his voice is what truly makes this an impressive album. He harmonizes and sings with passion but never overdoes it.
The first song on the album entitled “Path” is arguably the best song on the album. Draper starts the song with ghostly vocal harmonies before placing his lone voice front and center in the mix for the verse. The verse is good but the chorus is exceptional on this song. He delivers the lines “And he feels for the sense of it on every inch of her skin But thinking’s misleading discard it and let her begin” in the perfect range for his voice. The drums and bass lay low in the mix providing subtle but beneficial energy to the song.
Draper forgoes the drums and bass on the next track “Worth Your Time.” It is simply his voice and guitar that provide the music. It’s another solid song and emanates with melancholy that can make the most stoic of individuals feel reflective,.
"Absolute feat. Georgie Fuller” is by far the biggest departure and most experimental song on the album. The song manipulates a vocal sample and relies on a heavy bass and female vocal. It actually reminded a bit of XX because of the sparse instrumentation and interplay between vocals. The beat veers towards hip-hop, which threw me for even more of a loop. The song felt a bit out of place but is actually an excellent song. “4:20” is another unexpected but welcome deviation from the rest of the acoustic material on the album. The song again has an XX type vibe that is made through the dark tones and ambience of the music.
Overall, Heights is a rewarding listen and taps into the innate talent Draper has. I’m keeping my eye on this him since I have a feeling he hasn't come close to reaching his potential.
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