Jessy Lanza Finds Intimacy from a Distance on 'All the Time'

BY Tom BeedhamPublished Jul 22, 2020

On the cover of her third album, Jessy Lanza reclines in the front seat of a minivan, one foot on the dash, her name and the album title scrawled across the top of the windshield in blocky but tasteful chalk marker capitals — a less cartoonish approximation of the way a new lease might look fresh off a dealer lot. It's magic hour, and the glow hits her face just right while long shadows cast across a virtually empty supermarket parking lot — lines she's not paying attention to, at least double-parked for the shot. And with eyes cast upward, presumably at the sky, there's a contemplative, uncertain expression creeping across Lanza's face.

In more ways than one, All the Time offers a snapshot of Lanza's pre-pandemic life. Dealing with the crushing weight of time and space from the most accelerated city in the continent, Lanza hashed the album out long-distance with her hometown Hamilton-based creative partner Jeremy Greenspan of Junior Boys while she was living in New York City, communication distorted by distance.

There's a vexxed and summery kind of sadness to these tracks, but Lanza and Greenspan are in their element feeling these feelings, cultivating a vibe that animates stillness as much as it calms unrest, production answering and accentuating Lanza's longing with sympathetic physicality. Album opener "Anyone Around" booms and claps along on an 808 simmer and spins out into breezy footwork sessions that sound like memories of parties past while Lanza calls out for contact. "Like Fire" is about getting burned, but the subdued, twinkling production makes it sting less. On "Badly," the extended delay treatment on Lanza's vocals gives her words an instantly receding, foggy quality, as if she's questioning her own convictions the moment she's expressing them.

They're feelings that resonate even more intensely in a moment of physical distancing and sheltering in place — time Lanza has filled delivering DJ sets from her couch and performing hybrid sets from the trunk of her minivan when not creating video treatments for album singles. A recent offering — a video for "Anyone Around" — dives into the video conferencing aesthetic, assembling guests including Greenspan, Kara-Lis Coverdale and Korea Town Acid, reimagining the distance as an opportunity to connect digitally.

It's a record that exists on a wavelength somewhere between immersive and intangible, one that only seems accessible through the kind of perpetual spiralling Lanza describes between a shimmering synth and a 101 bass line on "Lick in Heaven": "Once I'm spinning, I can't stop spinning."

Lanza zooms between feelings and situations so nimbly that every time you revisit All the Time and the accompanying artwork, it's just as easy to imagine a freewheeling Lanza doing gleeful donuts in that parking lot as it is to envision her having a breakdown behind the wheel. To consider All the Time is to imagine a flat circle and the different ways you can fill it up. That proposition might feel overfamiliar for pandemic-era listeners, but Lanza navigates it with an angular propulsion and a commitment that diffuses the idle tension, almost normalizing it, making it more approachable.

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