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Album Review - "Harsh Mistress" 8 out of 10 stars

This is the debut recording by singer=songwriter / multi-instrumentalist Jay Shepard.  But the South Carolina native is hardly a newbie to the music biz.......While this release has commercial appeal, there is an endearing personal and eclectic feel as well.

Jay Shepard is a bit of change up from the records I’ve been getting for review. It’s a full stop pop record with all the necessary trappings. Happy bubbly melodies bounce around clouds of puffy effervescent synths and catchy hooks. Even the slower and melancholy songs seem to be tinted with a playful optimism. It should quickly strike a chord and resonate with fans of singer/songwriter pop acts like Jason Mraz or Matt Costa. At times the lyrics are very simple and are a good stab at the very punk influenced Strokes-esque style minimalism that in a way characterizes New York. Jay did a lot by himself on this record. He wrote and performed all of the songs, he also helped in the recording and production alongside producer Matty Amendola of 825 records. Amendola is listed as producer and engineer but he also contributed some live drum performances and drum sequencing. The album was mastered by Hans Dekline of Sound Bites Dog in L.A. Jay describes his music as “an exploration or music across genres” and he’s pretty spot on. Tooling around with different song structures and drawing on a wide range of styles, he’s crafted some well written ballads to brighten the day and your mood. Well worth looking for when I comes out on 825 Records next week, Tuesday, July 3rd. Check out the Jay Shepard and 825 websites for updates and links to purchase the album.