'Slingshot' Launches Winnipeg's JayWood into New Territory

BY Myles TiessenPublished Jul 14, 2022

On "YGBO," an interlude that appears late on JayWood's sophomore album Slingshot, the Winnipegger repeatedly shouts a line that, on its own, seems like the sort of sentiment you'd get from a particularly bereft Hallmark card: "You're gonna be okay." At any other moment on this album, it would feel like an awkward platitude, but its placement on the LP makes it feel exceptionally well deserved and essential.

Slingshot is a semi-concept record on which the artist born Jeremy Haywood-Smith brings the listener on a journey through the events of a single day. Songs about love, identity, loss, religion and racism touch on both the euphoric highs and desperate lows of human existence. By the time we reach "YGBO," the song's sentiment is enthusiastically welcomed.

Where JayWood used to show his inspiration by way of channelling major indie acts like Mac DeMarco and Mild High Club, Slingshot finds him switching gears to showcase his love and admiration for hip-hop and soul, like Flower Boy mixed with the dynamic range of Awaken, My Love! And yet, even with those titanic influences, JayWood remains true to his hallucinogenic bedroom-pop origins and incorporates a whole lot of free 'n' loose grooves. 

"God Is a Reptile" launches the listener deep into Slingshot's floral warmth. With its off-kilter drumbeat and psych-funk aesthetic, the song swirls around JayWood's reverbed vocals as he sings, "I'm tired of living in my skin / I feel like a washed-up has-been." The song's lyrics talk of self-doubt and explore JayWood's propensity for nostalgic reflection, but his creative instrumentation is the real showstopper: swirling around the cosmic soul rhythms are intense drum breaks, saxophone solos and a collage of synthesizers. This freeform funk sound can be heard throughout the album, and most songs end in head-in-the-clouds thrills. "Tulips" rides its bossa nova orchestration into infinity, while the end of "Is It True? (Dreams Pt. 3)" sounds like a Flaming Lips instrumental. 

Owing to Slingshot's remarkable density of production and diversity of songs, JayWood explores plenty of new sounds and follows broader experimental impulses than ever before. On album highlight "Shine," one of his more overtly hip-hop tracks to date, JayWood swaps between his silky tenor and placid rap flows as he and guest McKinley Dixon draw attention to police brutality, cultural appropriation and ennui.

Slingshot is a grand and creative offering on which JayWood tries new things, pushes his limits and gives himself enough freedom to have fun and not take things too seriously, no matter how heavy the subject matter. It's clear JayWood believes his own mantra — he's gonna be okay.
(Royal Mountain / Captured Tracks)

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