Jem - Down to Earth

2008-09-29 15:35
Since then her warm, comforting vocals and soulful romantic ballads have provided the soundtrack to emotionally wrought moments in everything from Grey's Anatomy to The O.C. and Six Feet Under. Not bad for a girl from a small Welsh town.

Down to Earth is Jem's second album and seeks to consolidate the success of her debut critically acclaimed album Finally Woken. That album saw Jem introduce her eclectic style, meshing romantic acoustic washes with sampled urban trip-hop beats – and Down to Earth doesn’t try to rewrite the formula. The depth of her songwriting has certainly improved though.

While first single "It's Amazing" was used on the Sex and the City movie soundtrack it’s luckily not the best track here. That honour belongs to the heart-breaking "You Will Make It" (featuring South Africa's own Vusi Mahlasela). It’s a minimal and poignant ode to a lost love that will surely leave a trail of weeping in its wake.

Elsewhere Jem gets jumpy (in Japanese) on the hyperkinetic "Aciiid!", but mostly keeps the tempo low and contemplative as the uber-pretty closers "And So I Pray" and "On Top Of The World".

Through it all, it's the vocals – a serene meeting point between Beth Orton and Cat Power – that are Down to Earth's greatest asset. Like a warm blanket on a chilly day or the loving embrace of a friend, it’s the perfect mender of a broken heart or even one that's at its happiest.

- Shaheema Barodien

Part breathy chanteuse, part pop firecracker, Jemma Griffiths has been hard to pin down since her debut single "They", which sampled Johann Sebastian Bach, flew up the charts in 2003.

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