Day Wave, singer songwriter Jackson Phillips’ solo project founded in 2015, creates music that can be classified as a mixture of ambient and indie genres. If you have never before listened to Day Wave, think Beach House and/or Craft Spells. Think music that can lull you to sleep with its dreamy, blue, breezy vibes. Hard to Read, Day Wave’s second EP, is made up of five unique songs that give insight into Phillips’ anxieties and the feelings he has bottled up. It is a beautiful album that conveys sincere moments of introspection.
Phillips is a very talented and interesting artist who is a firm believer in making and recording his own music. In fact, in an interview with noisey, Phillips talked about the designated room in his house where he keeps all of his instruments and records all of his music. It is a step outside of the norm compared to what musicians regularly do, which is to go into a studio and record.Nonetheless, the raw product Phillips generates from this do-it-yourself method is just the type of sound he is looking for.
The opening song, “Deadbeat Girl,” highlights how other people can be hard to read. Phillips sings, “I’m looking for a reaction, but you’re not good at them,” and “I know what you’re doing, you’re running away again.” He paints a portrait of someone who is not reciprocating his feelings because she is perhaps too scared to open up and make herself vulnerable. She is “a deadbeat girl at heart.”
In the song, “Hard to Read You,” Phillips confronts the reoccurring theme with lyrics like, “Darling it’s hard to read you.” Phillips released the song “Gone” as a single earlier in 2016 and it received much positive feedback. In the song, Phillips talks about the things he never said to someone and how that person will never have the opportunity to hear those unsaid things, suggesting that this person may have left Phillips and is now gone. All of the unspoken words are instead left on the backburner. As Philllips phrases it, “They all disappear.”
In “Stuck,” Phillips focuses on his own struggles; people think they may know him yet he does not even know himself. This song also reveals that Phillips has the tendency to pull away before he gets too close to someone, similar to that of the “deadbeat girl.” He is so “stuck” in his own head with his racing thoughts but is unable to let his guard down. He just cannot seem to bring himself to open up to others. In the last song of the album, “You,” Phillips recites his unstable feelings when he says, “my feelings are all around.” This is definitely a good final song for the EP, with its emphasis on guitar and the soft tone of Phillips’s voice making for a complete ending that nourishes the ear.
Day Wave makes you feel warm and full while simultaneously melancholy. Its overall tranquil musical tone definitely contrasts with its anxious lyrics, which was probably intentionally done in order to strike a feeling in the listener; it succeeded in doing this. This album captures the fundamental nature of anxiety, which is a constant pull between not worrying and worrying too much. I would definitely recommend giving it a listen. It’s a strangely pleasant companion for your own contemplation on a rainy afternoon.