Jaws of Love – Tasha Sits Close to the Piano

A few weeks ago I featured Jaws of Love’s excellent track Hawaiian License Plates in Sounds of Sunday.

I’m now pleased to say that Local Natives’ songwritervocalist and pianist Kelcey Ayer has released Tasha Sits Close to the Piano, his solo debut as Jaws of Love, via K-Rizzla/House Arrest digitally on September 22nd, with its gatefold coloured vinyl release available in the UK on 3rd November. The anticipated album is currently streaming on HypemachineDo give it a listen, it’s great.

Following the release of his highly praised singles; the eponymous ‘Jaws of Love’, acclaimed by the I PaperNoisey and Stereogum, the Billboard-premiered ‘Love Me Like I’m Gone’, which featured in Will Arnett’s Netflix series ‘Flaked’ and the DIY-approved ‘Hawaiian License Plates’, which have been picking up spins on key radio shows such as BBC Radio 2’s Jo Whiley and Radio X’s John Kennedy ‘XPosure’ – Jaws of Love is ready to announce a string of UK and EU dates, culminating with a headline show at London’s Moth Club on 1st February 2018. The tour will see hotly tipped Metro ‘Artist of The Week’ multi-instrumentalist Daniel Alexander as opening act.

The first solo project born out of the acclaimed Los Angeles band, sees Ayer hone in on his master craft: the emotive piano ballad as highlighted on the five-piece critically acclaimed second album ‘Hummingbird’. Kelcey Ayer, the creative force behind Jaws of Love, has always been an ace at writing a good love song – he just didn’t always know it. “I used to think that to write about love, something had to be wrong”, he says. “I often got my material from pain, or insecurity, or problems – I thought I couldn’t write a good love song because I am in love and it’s going so well. But I’ve grown to realise that even in the most amazing relationships there are turbulent. The idea of ‘jaws of love’ felt so perfect for this project because it’s all about love’s trials and tribulations.”

Recorded as Local Natives geared up to release their third album last summer, when Ayer booked time in the same LA studio, Electro-Vox, where the band had recorded ‘Sunlit Youth’, and in a three-day burst he recorded a handful of his own songs with the help of engineer Michael Harris and mixer Cian Riordan. Without any intention of releasing the tracks initially, Ayer allowed his emotional intuition to lead the way in the process. This ultimately yielded powerful results and was an exhilarating experience that led Ayer to decide to continue writing. He returned to the studio later in the year, and – aided by the studio’s myriad synthesizers, antique equipment, preamps, and outboard gear, in addition to drums recorded by Local Natives’ drummer Matt Frazier – Ayer completed his gorgeous solo debut.

The piano is a centerpiece on the album, named by Ayer’s wife about the couple’s dog Tasha – whether out front on its own like on the first single and opening track ‘Jaws of Love.’ or ushering in a maelstrom of synth programming as on ‘Microwaves.’ Every tune on the record features piano in a major capacity, with Ayer’s lilting, deliberate voice guiding the melodies with nuance and assurance. ‘Hawaiian License Plates’ dips and soars, while ‘Lake Tahoe’ pulls the tempo back down like an R&B torch song sung at 3 a.m. ‘Everything’ features a ripping horn wail, and Ayer’s heart-worn vocals over the steady click track on the lovelorn ‘Love Me Like I’m Gone’  take the song to dramatic heights. And yet, as implied by the stark black-and-white visual theme of the cover and throughout the record’s lit-inspired book, the 88 keys of that same contrast remain the star. As the Radiohead-recalling final song, ‘Nightlight,’ starts and ends with Ayer’s simple, rhythmic piano chords and gentle croon, Jaws of Love’s place and power are cemented.

Jaws of Love. upcoming album ‘Tasha Sits Close to the Piano’ is the first taste of Kelcey Ayer’s solo adventure. “The whole project is me trying to embrace my nuances and indulge in it,” he explains “I have dark piano music in my heart and soul, and Jaws of Love. is me at my truest self.”


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