Jeri Silverman – Leaflike
The title of this release might suggest some willowy folk inspired outing that plays everything by the numbers and sounds deadly earnest. Jeri Silverman, however, will surprise many with her cracking mix of surefooted pop instincts with a strong songwriting aesthetic. It helps her efforts immensely that she’s a technically gifted singer with the rare ability to utilize technique in a way that enhances emotiveness. Leaflike is a six song collection that covers a surprising amount of musical ground and never goes for the expected turn. There’s something dreamlike, yet concrete, about each of these songs that will impress many with their individuality. The production helps accentuate the material’s strength without ever glossing anything too much and it frames Silverman’s singing front and center while still leaving room in the mix for other elements to shine.
She eases listeners into her musical world with the entertaining track “Anywhere but Here”. Silverman displays a poetic and readymade facility for lyrically expressing discontent, but the most important aspect of that quality is how she never lets the theme drown in the expected for too long. Silverman understands, perhaps instinctively, that listeners embrace familiarity and predictability to a point, but too much of any good thing can distract or drive them away. “G&A” is musically sustained by its understated drumming and shimmering electronic textures. The title refers an acronym for some of the narrator’s darker musings, but as black as the lyric becomes, Silverman resists the temptation to carry it over the edge. In essence, this is the song’s subject – a life teetering on the edge of something momentous. Crisp acoustic guitar laces its way through another synthesizer and percussion soundscape on “The Fever”, but it isn’t a constant presence. One keeps expecting the instrument to assume more and more of a dominant role, but Silverman clearly enjoys tweaking expectations a little and devoting much of the guitar towards a compositional role makes for a better recorded work.
“Rabbit” is the EP’s peak moment. This is a full-rounded piece of songwriting that thoroughly exhausts its potential musically and lyrically. The well developed lyric revisits familiar themes but phrases them in a new way – it’s indicative of her talent for pouring old wine into new bottles. The same skill helps elevate her cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” from a potential carbon copy into something like an alternate version of a well-known standard. Despite never writing the song, Silverman throws herself into the song like she did and stamps it with her own personality. “Leaflike” concludes the EP with a title song that, as such songs should, wraps up the EP’s themes in a statement moment that lingers after the music fades.
The EP, as a whole, is a statement moment. This is a potentially generational talent who will soon stand among the foremost songwriters in the genre. Barring the possibility that she’s some sort of prodigy, it’s obvious that this sort of talent is the product of smart support and Silverman’s hard work. Her musical and literary abilities are considerable. Their perfect marriage on Leaflike makes for one of the year’s best releases so far.
9 out of 10 stars.