I have long been a fan of singer/songwriter Jay Brannan, having found him and his music through YouTube, and never looked back. Brannan has amazing tone to he voice, and his fluid style showcases his unwavering pitch. Brannan has released four album and one EP, all treasures in their own way. There have been three studio album, and one live recording, all since September of 2010. The EP was released in 2007, and is the oldest recording I know of. Two of the studio albums have featured original material, while the other centered on Jay's ability to perform cover songs in original ways. All have featured Jay's trademark crisp tenor and unique phrasing, making his music one-of-a-kind, and always worth giving a listen.
The latest, 'Around the World in 80 Jays', is a second album of cover tunes, but not quite like most cover songs. Jay is not tackling his favorite oldie-but-goodie, he chose songs from around the world, some familiar, but most a bit off the beaten track. As a longtime fan of Brannan, this comes as no surprise, for Jay often chooses the road less traveled. A perfect example can be found on his live album, recorded in Atlanta. Jay recorded a song I have heard him sing live, Nicki Minaj's "Super Bass". Another song I've heard him perform is featured as the first track on 'Around the World in 80 Jays'. Jay has often spoke of his appreciation of Irish singer/songwriter Sinéad O'Connor, so when he takes on her politically charged song "Black Boys on Mopeds", Jay's sweet voice stands in counterpoint to the bleak world view of the lyrics, written during a time of political strife in England. The next track was the signature song from Tejano superstar Selena. The song was written by the singer, along with her brother, AB Quintanilla III, and Pete Astudillo. The sweet song was released in 1994, and it went straight to #1 in the Billboard Latin Tracks chart. Enjoy the sweetness of Jay Brannan singing "Bidi Bidi Bom".
Well, the next song is from German music producer and DJ Alex C. The title, "Du hast den schönsten Arsch der Welt", which loosely translates to "You have the sweetest ass in the world", a German song. And now I know exactly why Brannan picked this song, stripped down to an acoustic wonder. Next, Jay stops over in Paris. Well, sort of. He sings "Les poémes de Michelle", a song written in French, and performed by American singer Teri Moïse. This is a lovely song, with just the perfect touch of melancholia to suit Brannan. Jay also tackles a traditional Portuguese Fold song, and it should come as no surprise, he does so with aplomb. "Nesta Rua" gives us with a nice balance of sweet with a twist of ethereal haunting. He also sings a 2007 hit song by Italian singer/songwriter Elise, "Eppure Sentire". Here is Jay singing the song from a recent live show.
While those might seem like esoteric choices, Jay taking on the 2011 world-wide hit, "Somebody That I Used to Know". The song, written and recorded by Australian Gotye, is given a fresh new sound, courtesy of Jay Brannan. On the next stop on this world tour, Brannan goes to Boliva to sing the tradition Folk song, "Llorando". Translated from the original Spanish to English, the lament speaks to crying, something we all understand, and don't need to know the translation when listening. The final song comes from the United States, and singer/songwriter Patty Griffin. "Top of the World" was also covered by by the Dixie Chicks, but Jay puts his own stamp on it. This is Jay singing "Top of the World" at a recent performance.
This is just an exceptionally lovely album, with a softness you don't often find in Brannan's original material. While I still might prefer Jay interpreting his own work, he clearly knows how to pick songs that are a perfect fit with his voice, or a song he can make special in a way on Jay can. I highly recommend 'Around the World in 80 Jays', a great addition to your music collection. In fact, with Jay involved, you can hardly go wrong. You can purchase 'Around the World in 80 Jays' from iTunes, and Amazon. To learn more about Jay Brannan on his official website. You can also 'follow' him on Twitter, and 'like' him on Facebook. You can also visit Jay's online Store, which you can find here.