To say Jane Lui is a gem of creativity in a music scene saturated with sound-a-likes is an understatement. That’s why we were extremely excited to check out her latest body of work – Goodnight Company. Lui chose to forego the traditional marketing & busines models with this release, opting to distribute the album for free via digital download and concurrently sell physical copies that include a bonus DVD. This release was more about getting her music into as many ipods and hands as possible rather than trying to rake in profit. So the question remains whether Goodnight Company is collection of quick freebies or a quality piece of work; and that’s what we aim to find out.
The album opens with the title track “Goodnight Company“. It carries with it an indie charm, full of diverse electronic blips and effects similar to Owl City’s “Fireflies”. The instrumentation is refreshing and completely switches up at the end, all complemented by Jane’s soothing vocals. Suffice to say, it’s a winner. Another pleasant surprise on the album was “Jailcard“, a catchy, upbeat number that actually makes you want to dance. Bet ya didn’t expect that from Ms. Lui! It’s impressive to hear Jane tackle a pop genre with so much cross over appeal while retaining her indie charm. What can I say? The song is just plain fun.
That’s not to say the entire album is full of experimentation and deviation from the Jane of yesteryear. Fans of her prior work will feel right at home with “Southern Winds“, where she takes her gentle vocals and supports them with beautiful instrumentation executed so well it almost transports you to another place. Tracks like “Long Ago” and “Last Rose of Summer” stand out because they are very simple in sound. Backed primarily by one instrument a piece, they give Jane room to emotionally explore the song with a focus her vocals. They may be straight-forward but they are very balanced and moving. On the other end of the spectrum, “Take Me For Now” relies on Jane’s theatrical tendencies, to the point it seems like it was taken straight out of a Broadway production. There’s a lot going on in the song, and it’s definitely an interesting listen if not a tad peculiar and at times overly complex.
The track “New Jersey” is perhaps the best sonic representation of what you can expect with Goodnight Company. It’s a little bit pop, a little bit theater, a little bit cinematic, very three dimensional and completely Jane. That’s the album in a nutshell. These songs are masterfully crafted, beautifully written and executed, and offer their fair share of variety. Weighing in at 10 tracks, this isn’t exactly a lengthy LP but Jane seems to make the most of it by offering a variety of styles and genres. Though therein lies it’s Catch 22. There may be something for everyone on the record, but I’m not entirely sure everyone will like everything. For instance, I myself appreciated some of the theatrical elements though I can’t say I always enjoyed them. But honestly that’s a very minor drawback on what is otherwise a fantastic album. There are a lot of singers that can make songs but Jane is an artist that makes music. There’s a difference. Never mind the free download folks, because this is definitely worth a purchase. You’d be remiss not to give this one your attention.
Must Listen: Goodnight Company; Jailcard; Southern Winds; New Jersey; Long Ago
a-Tunes Score: 9.5/10