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“Djesse Vol.1” proves itself as a true masterpiece

by Kevin O’Neil, Arts & Entertainment Editor
Photo courtesy of broadway.com 

Raised in North London, Jacob Collier was born from a family of music, with both his mother and grandfather being violinists and instructors at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Following in their footsteps, Collier is now a 25-year-old Grammy Award winning singer, arranger, composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist. He’s taught himself how to play nearly anything from the bass, drums, guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, autoharp, dulcimer and even spoons. A year ago, Collier started a four-album journey he named “Djesse,” a maximalist, monolithic construction, meant to represent four parts of a day.

“Djesse Vol. 1” is daybreak. The opening two songs introduce the rising sun, “Home is,” which bears a groggy ethereal voice to mirror that slowness of the dark early hours, with its lone, droning choirs. “Overture” sees the first light of dawn spilling over the horizon, with a crashing escalation of speed and energy thanks to the entry of an orchestra. Lyrics are minimal in these two, as the message doesn’t matter nearly as much in the introduction as the emotions that it stirs.

The second half of “Djesse Vol. 1” is much more vibrant and livelier, with the sun now revealed and everything awake and ready, the music has many more words to say. Lyrics and vocals now drive the music forward in just about every song, from a possible conversation between the Earth and the universe, to a bittersweet promise of love.

The construction of this project was no simple task. Collier was set on a worldly scale, and that required him to travel all over the world, from Morocco to Japan to Los Angeles to New York, all to meet and collaborate with talented and diverse artists so that “Djesse” could be as rounded and spectacular. In terms of post-production, there were thousands of vocal layers to many of the songs, many sung my Collier himself.

Altogether, “Djesse Vol.1” is an awe-inspiring experience for any of those who are fancied by the wide and the worldly. If you enjoy the Docid tones of Jacob Collier, then you’ll enjoy this album.