JP Saxe's debut album boasts lyrical, emotional and sonical depth, breadth and rawness.
At the start of the pandemic, JP Saxe’s 2019 collaboration with girlfriend Julia Michaels If the World was Ending took off in the charts and landed him into temporary household name status. He returns in 2021 with his 16-track debut album Dangerous Levels of Introspection.
The track listing of this album tells the story of the changing and processing of feelings after an emotionally charged breakup, and the initial fears and reservations heading into a new relationship. Adjusted slightly from the original version, the deluxe edition places its new tracks within the body of work rather than the conventional option of sticking them to the bottom. This album is one of those who’s first few listens cannot be shuffled.
From smashing the track order convention to smashing the classic writing styles, Saxe ignores every single formula pop music demands of successful musicians in the 21st century. With no care for perfect rhyme nor structure of a song, the album truly embodies the feelings it is trying to convey rather than trying to fit a feeling to a formula.
The album kicks off with ‘4:30 in Toronto’, a visually rich song where Saxe longs for the feeling of home his ex-lover brought in his now empty-feeling hometown. He returns to this feeling as he mourns the death of his mother in the final song, ‘Sing Myself to Sleep’.
The current single ‘Soft Landing’ follows these intense feelings and depicts what it’s like when love as you know it is about to end – and the ache for it to end peacefully. In every aspect, it’s nothing short of genius. Saxe does what he does best and uses words to form his melodies, with rhyme scheme not even getting a second glance. The production is paradoxical to a soft landing; rather, it feels like you’re hurtling at 100 miles an hour with everything to lose. An excellent choice for the next single, sure to land Saxe back in the charts.
Track 4 ‘Here’s Hopin’’ continues the heartbreak theme reflecting on the end of a relationship, knowing that getting over them means losing them but taking the risk that that could open yourself up to something better. What’s beautiful about ‘Here’s Hopin’’ is John Mayer’s guitar feature, which adds a different depth to the song. Synonymous to this is the track featured later, ‘For Emilee’, Saxe’s self-proclaimed “anthem for the heartbroken”. Essentially a letter to his best friend Emilee, the song tells her to leave a toxic love, and in doing so she is able to open herself up to something better.
The rest of the songs follow these similar themes, the ending of a relationship and reflections leading to Dangerous Levels of Introspection.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a JP Saxe release without love songs for his fellow singer-songwriter girlfriend, Julia Michaels. ‘Hold on To Me’, ‘Like That’ and ‘More Of You’ are innocent yet vulnerable tales of falling in love all over again with the right person. Admitting to their strange dynamic of both being songwriters, it’s sweet to see her on the writing credits for several songs on the album.
Overall, Dangerous Levels of Introspection is a flawless record from top to bottom, breaking every rule in the book, and portraying feelings in an innovative and intelligent way. The album marks the start of a hugely successful career for Saxe, and serves as proof that he isn’t disappearing from the music scene anytime soon.
Dangerous Levels of Introspection is out now, via Sony Music Entertainment. Watch the video for ‘Soft Landing’ below: