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Arts + CultureMusicOn 'New Girl,' Jamie Drake makes some striking bossa...

On ‘New Girl,’ Jamie Drake makes some striking bossa moves

The LA artist tells stories of loss with classic Brazilian touches and enough Laurel Canyon vibes for a contact high

In Brazil, the term “bossa” refers to something done with elegance, natural flare, or aptitude.

Jamie Drake, a much-talked-about and enormously gifted Los Angeles singer-songwriter, finds the proper entry point for stepping into fresh skin on her sophomore album New Girl. She’s soundtracked a type of transition by fusing her history with samba accents and a love of folk—musically, with a love for the bossa nova genre, and artistically, moving into a new elegance.

These 11 tracks, ranging from heady to soothing, provide all of the Laurel Canyon vibes one needs for a serious contact high. ‘The Head it knows, but the Heart does all the lying,’ Drake sings in her late-afternoon-sun lilt on the self-deprecating “Letting Go Feels Like Dying.” “I need to get along, but I keep staying.”

It’s one of several snitching-on-herself moments that injects levity into an otherwise serious situation. These songs clearly pertain to a terrible period in her life, and she has overcome it. So it’s only natural to set it all to music. “Stepping out of my skin, don’t know where to begin” kicks off “It’s a New Life” with such vigour that it seems colder than car freshener pine.

Her time-traveling voice, which connects paths from Carole King to Judy Collins with a touch of Maria Muldaur’s humor, continues pumping these brilliant one-liners that poke fun at her peculiarities and, more broadly, the human condition. New Girl links Drake to the history of singer-songwriters transforming darkness into performance gold, tonally distanced from the terrible beginnings.

According to liner notes, the bossa influence came unexpectedly on a chance listening to Getz/Gilberto ’76, the classic live album by Stan Getz and João Gilberto, which Jamie discovered for the first time in 2020 while living in upper Ojai, California. “I listened to it every day while riding my bike around Meiners Oaks with my dog Moxie and a JBL speaker in the basket. I knew those songs had gotten into my marrow when I met and wrote ‘It’s A New Life’ with producer Rich Jacques, as it’s the first song I’ve ever written with a bossa feeling to it. I knew I would make my next album with him after that. The feeling of that song was the world I wanted to keep living in musically.”  

And through these grooves, she did.

Listen, in the past I’ve spent weeks, count ’em, weeks, in all corners, searching for records, here at Amoeba in SF, hunting down those funky-folky moods. The ones Floating Points jam-packed his Late Night Tales compilation for a couple of years back.  Similar to our own Bay-Area beatsmith at large: Professor Brian Oblivians’ mixtape from a couple of years ago Autumn Skies, which big-upped deep crate finds of the AOR, jazz, soft rock, Brazilian, and folk persuasion.

Trust. With its hip meets stylish personality, making that foxy lemonade from those trifling Meyer lemon days, New Girl is unquestionably KCRW drip. Listener-supported sauce. Crack, of the good addictive kind, that could support whatever pledge drive the gleeful Santa Monica residents select. However, the airy and metrical arrangements elevate this record above and beyond a stronger feeling of self. It’s a musical reawakening.

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John-Paul Shiverhttps://www.clippings.me/channelsubtext
John-Paul Shiver has been contributing to 48 Hills since 2019. His work as an experienced music journalist and pop culture commentator has appeared in the Wire, Resident Advisor, SF Weekly, Bandcamp Daily, PulpLab, AFROPUNK, and Drowned In Sound.

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