JR Slayer – Half Lyfe

A straight-from-the-box drum machine tempo, loosened at the edges, and a pulse-strum acoustic guitar. Immediately disarming, ‘Half Lyfe’ – the second track we’ve heard from JR Slayer’s upcoming album You Found Me – lands like a measure of easy intimacy.

Reflective, and confessional by turns ‘Half Lyfe’ displays the strengths of JR Slayer’s work. A project of Cody Votolato, the band offers outlet for solo excursions from the Blood Brothers and Jaguar Love singer-songwriter. Here, also exercising production chops Votolato reaches in to the grains of a scene – extracting the compounded sounds from each instrument.

The artist says that the upcoming sophomore album, coming on February 1 2019, was an unintentional exercise. First there was a single song, and then there was two, then three, then a sequence. Flavored by elements of his everyday life, like the constant sound of helicopters taking off and landing at the children’s hospital, next door to his home – these are thoughts, and sensibilities informed by the influence of an indifferent world.

Of course the emotional content is high – and so ‘Half Lyfe’, pun-spelling and all, cascades through an itemized receipt of behaviors between two people. Some things are tolerable, some things are only just tolerable. JR Slayer read the signals, and navigate through to the only things that feel true. The result is smart – focus is shifted away from the negative and onto the inspirational center of an affair.

Telling of the direction of travel to expect from You Found Me, ‘Half Lyfe’ builds on the potential of Votolato’s previous work. The track reveals a strong signal of intent, and delivers a quiet, distinguishing underlining of abilities. There’s a strength in this softly-softly approach.

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