Winnipeg's JayWood Turns His Influences into His Peers on 'Some Days'

BY Chris BrysonPublished Apr 21, 2021

There's a thoughtful levity to JayWood's music, one that enlivens as it uplifts, built from the act of continuation and a considered yet effortless flow. Jeremy Haywood-Smith's JayWood project has been a staple of the Manitoba music scene for years, where it blossomed from sad jangly bedroom pop into dreamy, poppy psych-funk. Through EPs in 2016 and 2017, and into 2019's debut LP Time, Haywood-Smith has had an affinity for playful experimentation and a knack for crafting simultaneously complex and catchy tunes.

Time was a well-conceived, inwardly focused channel-surfing concept album that expanded on JayWood's evolving sound and included humorous skits that showed Haywood-Smith's personality, sense of humour and desire to try new ideas. Some Days, JayWood's new EP, is actually an old EP; originally written and recorded in 2015, Haywood-Smith re-recorded Some Days at Winnipeg's House of Wonders with guest performers for JayWood's debut on Royal Mountain Records and Captured Tracks, and the collection he's come out with is confident and refined.

Three of the EP's five tracks, "Some Days," "Creeps" and "What You Do to Me," showcase Haywood-Smith's ability to craft undeniably catchy and groovy psych-funk with jazzy complexity and a strong sense for poppy earworm melodies. With skittering percussion, the title track overlays glistening hooks and winding, flittering notes with Haywood-Smith's cool croon overtop. "What You Do to Me" takes on depression with instruments that patter, chime and whirl with a bounding and blissful swagger, while "Creeps" is steeped in sticky psychedelic guitar that weaves through sauntering bass, spidery lines and spiralling riffs.

In between "Creeps" and "What You Do to Me" is the enchanting "Dreams," the EP's wistful centrepiece, which is full of shimmering tones and weeping strings. Its slow build is dramatic, affecting and, like the name implies, dreamy. It comes as a delightful surprise between the tracks that bookend it.

Some Days' lyrics give the collection a heartfelt layer of depth through Haywood-Smith's explorations depression, relationships and life's momentum — themes he explores with hope, acceptance and perseverance. There's also moments of playfulness — like the slight goof in "Some Days (Acoustic)" and the handclaps, hoots and hollers in "What You Do to Me" — that give these songs a more intimate, electric, in-concert feel.

The EP's closer is the aforementioned "Some Days (Acoustic)," a pared-down rendition of the title track that feels like an end-of-the-night encore. Featuring Haywood-Smith with just his guitar and voice, the lyrics come front and centre, giving a sense of journey and triumph. He sings, "Some days, I hope to help lives / I want to hold anyone, who can't find the light / Some day, I dream I can fly / To look around and know I've gone beyond this world I know," and a bit later, "I swear I'm not broken / I'm just a little lost / With a little guidance / I'll find my cause."

There's an odd sense of coming full circle with the re-recording of these songs, which were conceived in the band's earlier days when it was doing covers of Mac DeMarco, Craft Spells and DIIV — artists who JayWood is now labelmates with. Haywood-Smith seems to have found some guidance so he can further help lives and find his cause, and the freshly revived Some Days has found its perfect home in today.
(Royal Mountain Records)

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