TRACK REVIEW: Jessie Munro - On My Own

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Jessie Munro

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On My Own

 

9.4/10

 

 

The track, On My Own, is available via:

https://soundcloud.com/jessie-leith-munro/04-on-my-own

GENRES:

Electro-Pop; R&B; Soul

ORIGIN:

Los Angeles, U.S.A.

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The E.P., On My Own, is available via:

https://open.spotify.com/album/5JPnOkhObOdg84w3WqCBAO?si=VD3Vs6mdRHWKGPpjBqaeBA

RELEASE DATE:

28th September, 2018

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THIS time around…

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I will talk about the climate of modern Pop and Electro and look at Jessie Munro in the context of Los Angeles. I will discuss suggestions for her to strengthen her position in the scene and talk about a maturity coming through in music and taking a different angle on a very common subject; those who start with a Classical mindset and can add that into the music; a little about songs that remain in the mind and what 2019 might hold for Munro. I wanted to start off by talking about modern Pop and Electro and a problem that has formed at the moment. Whilst Munro does not fall into this trap – and hope she does not – I am worried there is an environment around her that is not good to see. I will look at this later in more depth but it is not only the mainstream that can accused of a rather sad and fatigued sound. You do not have to strain your ears too much to discover something pretty down and insular. It is happening more and more: artists pouring out a pain and leaving any sort of fun at the door. Music has been turning that way for a while and it is happening a lot in terms of underground artists. I am not sure whether it is a case of people seeing that as a popular and natural sound but I do wonder where the energy and interest has gone. I hear too many artists who tend to pitch their tent on a particular sound and vibe and it is hard to shake that off. I understand the need to document your feelings and truth but that is coming at the expense of any positivity and fun. I am not saying music needs to be a constant carnival but it would be nice to see some more cheer and hope emerging right now. Jessie Munro has to talk about love and breakup, as I shall get onto, but there is something more vibrant and fulsome.

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You get a full-bodied and eclectic sound with her and, whilst the themes can be quite challenging at times, the mood is never brought down and you feel like she wants the listener to take something positive away. There are times, naturally, when she has to dip the lights and get a bit emotional but the sensation is never too heavy and moody. Instead, you get an artist who can talk about post-breakup considerations and discuss love without getting into clichés and that rather dour sound. As I said; I will talk about this later in the day but I am concerned by the modern scene. It is not all genres that are culpable: Hip-Hop and Rap are, as always, not interested in wallowing and try and add as much fun and energy into proceedings. One might say there is anger and aggression in a lot of songs but that is part of the culture. The fierceness and confidence of the artists is what makes the music so exciting and compelling. So many new artists are falling into the Pop/Electro mould and, with it, you tend to have this particular sound. The same, to an extent, is true of Folk and Indie. All of the different genres grab more attention (than Hip-Hop) and, as such, there is that samey and rather gloomy outlook. Munro is someone who wants to remain personal and accessible but does not want to get too caught up on being too depressing and revealing. I can appreciate why artists want to pour themselves out on the page but, if you compare the mainstream not to, say, 1993 and you can hear vast emotional and dynamic differences. Time and technology should not have changed the emotional spectrum of modern music as much as it has but, here we are, listening to artists who have forgotten how to look up and get away from the personal. The reason why I wanted to look at Munro’s music is because there is something working away that strikes the mind and lifts the mood. It is the way she injects soulfulness into the mix and brings those interesting compositions together – someone who is showing plenty of spirit and hope.

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Los Angeles is an area of California that has experienced bush fires and loss over the past few days. We have all seen the news regarding the devastation and how things have turned there. It is horrifying to think of the loss and destruction – and the man in power who is doing very little to change things. Whilst there is geographical and personal loss in the state; the musicians of Los Angeles are as strong and eclectic as ever. I hope they are not affected too much by recent events because, as I have said time and time again, it is a fantastic area for music. Maybe there is that leaning more towards Electro and Pop whereas, in New York, I tend to find more Rock and Alternative bands; not to mention Hip-Hop and Rap artists. There is a natural sunniness and warmth in L.A. that is going to affect the music. It is one of the downsides, I guess, regarding the warm weather and sunshine – events like the bushfires will happen. In music terms, there is a lot to be recommended right now. Every time I interview an artist from Los Angeles, they say there is that support among musicians and there are great venues to play. Whilst we are suffering losses in the U.K. and many venues are shutting their doors; Los Angeles’ vastness and comparative wealth means a lot of their best venues are remaining open and encouraging musicians. The economy there is better and that is providing hope and comfort for the new breed. In terms of the sound and sensations coming from L.A. and California; I am amazed by the sheer endeavour and ambition of artists. Even when they are in the Pop/Electro headspace, you get this sense of individuality and boldness. A lot of British acts can be quite samey and plain but, in L.A., that extra fizz and layer of brilliance comes through. Maybe it is coincidental but I know there is a community and sense of freedom in L.A. that you do not really get anywhere else.

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I have talked about the area many times before so I cannot bring fresh angles to the party. What I will say is that every time I get to assess an artist from the city/state, I am blown away by the sound that comes through. The range and sheer breadth one finds somewhere like Los Angeles is amazing. In a music world where the negative sounds outweigh the positive; it seems like Los Angeles’ artists are trying to do something a bit different and provide some strength. It is interesting see the new generation come through and what they are offering the world. I wonder how this will grow and change in years to come. What I like about Los Angeles artists is their willingness to go off the track and not copy what everyone else is doing. Although Jessie Munro was born in Canada, she is taking to the L.A. way of working and producing something great. I have taken a while to get around to this review – her E.P., On My Own, has been out for a while now – but that sort of works in my favour. In terms of sounds, everything starts to come to the fore and reveal itself after a set amount of time. I am finding new revelations and positives emerge; sounds pop and show themselves that were hidden before. I am not sure whether that is the direct influence of L.A. or it is something Jessie Munro has taken from her own life. Whatever the reason behind the nuance and build, I am glad I got to review Jessie Munro and investigate her current sounds. Before I come to look at her sounds and why she is standing out, there are a few things that could be adapted and added to ensure her music and online profile is spread as far and wide as possible.

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I have been getting tough on people requesting interviews because, a lot of the time, the standard of responses is lax and poor; the time taken to get the written responses to me is huge and the images I am being sent are sub-par. What I say to everyone is to look at what they are putting out there and how they approach interviews and ask whether it is the right way of doing things. Most of Munro’s online portfolio is great but, in order to exert even more influence and strength, there are a few points to note. Images and updated shots are always on my mind and it is the biggest flaw for a lot of artists. Some have reacted angrily when I have pointed this out in reviews – which is fair enough – but it is for their good and not a criticism. What I look for when doing pieces like this are sharp images and having a choice when it comes to shots. You will see some good shots in this review but I had to collate quite a few of them from Google – a lot were not included on Facebook and Twitter. Munro is someone who pops on camera and is extremely photogenic and there are so many different possibilities that could be explored regarding photos. She has a few current shots online but a lot of her photos are from a little while back. People like me are going to be drawn to images before the music itself. More will go out of their way to do these big pieces on artists where there are photographic choices. It is not too expensive getting a shoot organised and I wonder whether artists need to address this more. One of the most important things they can do is to get regular images online and make sure they are as sharp and focused as possible. Music is so much about images nowadays and taking care of that visual side. You can have brilliant music but if you do not consider photos and getting a range online then that will have a damaging impact.

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Everything about Munro’s music is fine and great but there is that need to know what she is up to and how things are going. I know her E.P. is out and she promoted it when it arrived but there are new fans and followers who can be recruited. Putting out regular updates and sharing tracks from the E.P. would hook new listeners in and encourage her current fans to share the love. I am familiar with her music but there are many out there who have not heard it. Getting in contact with radio stations around the U.K. would give her a good footing here and, whilst she does have a team behind her, the artist needs to take this on board and keep active. Even if it is a case of posting something on Instagram or updating fans regarding tour movements, it is essential to keep busy. Her Twitter feed has not been updated for a little while and, to causal observers, that looks like something is wrong or she is quiet. I am sure there are tour dates and plans coming; there is a great E.P. out there and this music people can hear. You do not need to post something every day but this is a whole world to connect with and modern artists need to be keeping their social media feeds fresh and updated. I will not labour these points too much but they are more constructive than critiques. I know how tough it is in the business and the competition that is out there. The way to keep ahead and not fall behind it to concentrate on all areas and, when it comes to journalists and fans, the more information and options they have in front of them (regarding an artist) the more appealing that is. I shall moves things on and get to talking about Jessie Munro and why her music has a maturity and sense of depth.

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I have talked about a certain slump in music and how emotions and negativity seems to be infiltrating every crack and avenue right now. There are exceptions and positives to be heard but, in terms of the mainstream, there is either a vapid air or a sense of depression. Munro could have easily followed that path but, even as she talks about splits and being alone, the music never drags you down. One can attribute this to a maturity and sense of musicianship that allows for an emotional balance and a sense of abiding hope. Maybe she has had her heart broken but the songwriter is looking at better days and aiming for something uplifting. That is rare to see and, whilst I like what she is talking about and how she approaches music, it is the feeling one gets when listening that is most impressive. All of the strongest artists are able to deliver something fresh and familiar at the same time. You can listen to a song like On My Own and, from the title alone, know what it is going to be about. The more the song plays, the more you know you are listening to something new and personal. Munro can present a song that provides that familiar air but she adds in her own blends and touches. She has seduced audiences around the world and one of the reasons for that is because her music has that great balance. One can dive into her songs and find comfort but there are layers and elements that strike you and take you by surprise. I am impressed how she has developed as an artist and how far her music has come on. A lot of the stuff I am hearing right now is somewhat petulant or lacks maturity: Munro is someone who can talk about bitter times and cragged roads and do so with more dignity and intelligence. Many might say a maturity and sense of dignity equates to a boring and rather insipid song. That might be some people’s impression but that is not the case here.

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Munro splices together R&B and Soul and there is that integration of Electro and Pop. All these different sounds could easily have been divided and clumsily mixed but, in her hands, they are perfectly blended and you get this rich cocktail. I said I would mention Classic music earlier and it seems like more and more artists start off in that genre. Maybe it is the natural avenue for many children. When you have an interest in music, you will be guided to the piano and instruments like that. A few might know what they want to do in terms of future music endeavours but the piano and the world of Classical is a good way in and gives you that taste. I think, in many ways, a lot of the disciplines and traits required in the Classical world can be translated and brought into other genres. In the case of Jessie Munro; she got into Classical and musical theatre at a young age and even attended Berklee College of Music. All of this experience has gone into her music and why there is such maturity. You listen to her new E.P. and every song has its own skin and voice. One gets a real sense of adventure and complexity in the music and you can trace a line back to her training and education. I think everything she has learned and absorbed since childhood has made her the artist she is now and means her music stands out. There is nothing to suggest Munro cannot go on and be a big name in the mainstream one day. The competition is fierce and never-ending but she has so many assets and positives working in her favour. I feel she avoids easy traps regarding lyrical themes and sounds and can provide this alluring and deep blend that gets into the heart and under the skin. Munro is inspired by a lot of the songwriting greats and you can hear their inspiration working away.

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I feel a lot of modern songwriters are following the mainstream too closely and getting hooked on what is happening there. We have this very contemporary and fresh sound in 2018 and, whilst there are some great artists to be found, I wonder how many look back and take guidance from those musical greats? Every artist is inspired by the past and the music they grew up around but very few are wearing that on their sleeves. In terms of influences for Jessie Munro, you get the feeling someone like Carole King made a big impact. The way her music gets into the soul and can talk about love and breakup like nobody else...this is something we do not see enough of in modern music. Munro can take some elements of King and her artistry and splice that with modern R&B and Pop. It is an intoxicating and decades-hopping combination that provides her music that depth and strength. I shall move on to looking at a song I was keen to focus on but, before then, it is worth looking at her locker. I can hear Daniel Caesar and Carole King collide; Charlotte Day Wilson and a bit of Laura Marling; there is a nice unity of the old-school legends and the new breed making their mark. I feel it is always the temptation to ape your icons and follow what they did. It is tempting but, if you are too obvious then that can be a danger. Munro avoids this and, instead, seamlessly creates something new. You get these details and little touches in every line but are never too firmly reminded of anyone else. There are few songwriters who have the attributes and personality traits of Jessie Munro. I hope more learn from her and we can see the scene change a little bit.  

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One might expect On My Own to start quite quietly or either race out of the blocks with something quite urgent. Instead, there is a build and tease that takes you by surprise. Rather than do what is expected or what we are guessing; Munro laces in a few gentle electric guitar strums and layers in this rather interesting mood. You get invested and interested and are settled to see what arrives next. The words are delivered with passion and intent and you have this rather soothing sound. Munro’s voice hits you with all its soulful passion and depth. You swim inside the vocal and its beauty. The heroine has faced a lot of heartache and change recently and she is not willing to let all the pain in quite yet. It seems she does not want to forget the good times and the memory of her sweetheart but has to acknowledge things have changed and life is not as she imagined. One might think a rather calm and slow delivery lacks the same impact as a faster and firmer one. The full effect of the emotions come through when things are unveiled with greater care and consideration. You are allowed time to absorb the words and picture the scenes. You get sensations of classic Soul and R&B when hearing the silky and water-flow notes cascade and trickle. I investigate my thoughts and wonder whether the breakup has happened or whether there is still that spark. It seems like Munro still cannot forget the passion and relationship and she might be kidding herself to an extent. Maybe she is unwilling to let it go and fade away. During the day she is pretending but, by midnight, she is letting herself slip. The chorus arrives and you get a rush of vocals and instruments. The composition has that warmth and passion and you get this incredible rush. There is this big declaration from Munro, that she is on her own, but it is never delivered with sadness.

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One feels this determination and strength but there is the acceptance things are not as they were. You are involved in the song and get the feeling she has been going back to her sweetheart and trying to rekindle the flame but things are not as they were. I am wondering whether this is a long-term relationship or something that has just started but, whatever the truth, it has made an impact and the heroine is feeling the force. You get this wonderful blast of Soul that makes you shiver and sigh and the firmness and potency of an Electro backbone. It is hard to put into words but the mix of sounds and sensations is brilliant. The heroine gives time for the music to speak and breathe and you get a lot of story and progression through the notes. There is piano/keys and some subtle beats that provides a smoothness and tender touch. The more the song goes on, the more images flood and you start to present your own interpretation. I was backing the heroine and hoping things would work out but it seems things have gone wrong and there is no coming back from it. Munro is being distracted by something/someone and going through the motions. Maybe she is dating others and engaging in something easy and fast in order to compensate for this loss. It is easy to assume there is this rather reckless behaviour but I feel Munro is trying to resist the temptation to come back to her lover. On My Own is a great offering that you will want to listen to again and again. It forms an important part if the On My Own E.P. story but stands up on its own. I have provided my interpretation of events but maybe the truth is somewhat different. However you envisage the story; one cannot deny the strength and beauty of the song.

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There are a few update happening here and there on her social media but I feel the next few months will be quiet for Munro. She has been busy working on her E.P. and put that out so, naturally, there will be gigs and she will look ahead to more material. For those outside of L.A., it might be a while before we see her play around our way but keep your eyes focused on social media and let’s hope there is news of international dates. She is cementing her name locally and keen to get the music to the people there. I am excited to see how far she has come and what her music stands for. It is a big blend of the old and new, the emotional and positive – how often do we get to say that?! If you have not heard her sounds then check out the On My Own E.P. and all it is about. There is that story of breakup and the stage of discovering that loss and having to deal with it. It would have been easy to write something bathed in misery and anger but, instead, the natural strength and maturity of Munro means the songs keep their head but do not lose their heart. Her six-track E.P. is crammed with life, possibilities and wonderful takeaways. I am curious where she will step next and whether there will be more touring. The demand is out there and, here in the U.K., her name is not as well-known as in the U.S. I think that could change in 2019 and we will hear more from her. As I said in the opening paragraphs; we need to have that social media updating and keeping fans in the loop. It has been a busy time for her but many will be eager to catch her live and find out where she is heading next year. I have enjoyed listening to Munro and her track, On My Own, and can thoroughly recommend the entire E.P. Make sure you get invested and discover what she is all about. There are many artists out there you can choose from but there are few...

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