For those of us who have braved the global pandemic in landlocked cities, the ocean is a distant memory we occasionally remind ourselves of when scrolling lovingly through old holiday photos. So when upcoming Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter, flautist and dancer JaMichael released his debut single “Swallowed by the Sea” on June 5th, it was like much needed musical waves to our ears.
It starts with a warm and soulful piano introduction that sets up a wide and spacious musical scene into which vocalist Malaya wanders into with an exquisitely rich voice. The production is organic, the sounds of real instruments played by real people is refreshing and JaMichael’s flute melodies are weaved magically throughout this hydrating musical texture (see what we did there?…hydrate…like water…like sea…it’s easy to forget what counts as humor when you haven’t left the house in a hundred months, #tonemamajokes).
When the song comes to a close, it feels as if it gets ‘swallowed’ in the production, slowly sinking underwater only to explode back into a powerful chorus and a rejuvenating musical outro where JaMichael’s prowess as a flautist comes into full glory. The flute deserves one more compliment – it is effortless, sensual, prodigious and majestic at the same time – in fact, it is reminiscent of the very ocean the song is depicting. The song’s overall usage of jazz harmonies might seem unfamiliar to a more pop-conventional-minded listener, but perhaps it is especially for those listeners that there is an even stronger sense of being soothed with a warm blanket of harmonies that drip down the skin. Close your eyes and let the music wash over you like a delicious waterfall of gorgeous notes and words.
Best enjoyed: On a Sunday morning sitting in the sun
Listen for this moment: The most grandiose vocal riff on the word “sea” at 2:34