Jayda G

(Ninja Tune)


A tape whirrs, rewinding and fast-forwarding, searching for the man captured inside. That man is William Richard Guy, Jayda G’s American father. He recorded these tapes in secret with her sister, for Jayda to discover when she was older. It was an act of preservation after he learned of the illness that would cut his life short before she would grow into adulthood. In them, he tells his story.

Now, the Canadian electronic artist honours him through song, weaving fragments of these tapes into an album that’s inspired by his life as a snapshot of Black America and familial love. Arriving not long after the breakthrough success of ‘Both Of Us’ mid-lockdown in 2020, which brought new fans, wider opportunities and even a Grammy win, the album also ventures into sleeker pop sounds and an upbeat palette. 

But this more polished sound is often at odds with the deep and worthy story at the heart of the record. The tape recordings struggle to be made out as they clash with what surrounds them. While her last record, Significant Changes, used fittingly meditative deep house sounds to explore her blend of dance catharsis, Guy is lacking in sonic identity to give it weight. While tracks like ‘Blue Lights’ and ‘Scars’ are skillfully made pieces of dance-pop, they feel oddly functional given they were clearly made with love and affection. Part of this translation issue rests on Jayda G’s vocal performance, which is often muffled and disconnected. It’s a personal offering, and although that’s absolutely valid, perhaps it is one that will resonate more with its creator than with a general audience.