Sarah Jaffe Don't Disconnect on Colored 180g LP + Download
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For 28-year-old singer-songwriter Sarah Jaffe, Don’t Disconnect is both a mission statement and a call to arms - an album about getting to know yourself in a hyper-connected world world that makes it nearly impossible to do just that. The leadoff track from the Texas-born musician’s third LP sets the tone: “Middle of the line / Middle of the road,” Jaffe sings over mid-tempo beats on “Ride It Out,” “Nowhere to hide on this logical plateau / Gunna have to ride it out.” “Riding it out” - that is, facing your reality and learning how to cope with it, is a powerful opening credo for an album titled Don’t Disconnect, which emphasizes the power of staying truly “connected” without unplugging from the world around you.
The highly anticipated follow-up to The Body Wins continues to showcase Jaffe’s range. Don’t Disconnect, due out on Kirtland, was produced by Midlake’s McKenzie Smith, whose “amazing partnership,” Jaffe enthuses, was “like two friends in the studio” - a warmness that bleeds through to the record, despite the technological connotations of its title. If The Body Wins emphasized the triumph of the corporeal - in metaphors and direct references to “the body” - then Don’t Disconnect is about the humanity and vulnerability that lies within.
But Don’t Disconnect is also about the spectrum of emotions that come with self-examination: "Ride It Out" is an exuberant anthem and one of Jaffe’s most up-tempo songs to date, setting the record’s energy of catharsis in motion from the album’s opening moments - and yet the following song, “Fatalist” is stark, introspective, and existential. Elsewhere on the album, she waxes philosophical (“Constant questions at my feet / Is everything a sign for me?” she sings on “Revelation”) and melancholy (“I’ll be leaving now / leaving now / I can show myself out” on “Satire”).
Throughout the record, Jaffe’s vocals continually impress: on “Either Way” she channels a sultry smokiness while conjuring a mystique whose elegance is underscored by weeping strings and staccato drum builds. On “Slow Pour,” her voice floats almost ethereally over the music, but on every song, the sound is uniquely her own, and nowhere is this more apparent than on the title track. Even though “Don’t Disconnect” arrives in the middle of the record, it’s earnestness sets the mood with Jaffe brandishing her voice through heavy narratives and gentle melodies: “Do you still feel me? / Don’t disconnect yet...” she croons, deftly crafting a vulnerability that feels both relatable and comforting.
Ultimately, the desire to stay connected in the right way - with yourself, and with the people who matter - is what drives the album. Jaffe describes Don’t Disconnect as being about coming to terms with who she is: “It’s sort of like my hands are up in the air,” she says, “We’re constantly comparing ourselves, whether we know it or not, because there’s always something out there to compare to. So [Don’t Disconnect] is a self-diagnosis, but it’s light hearted.”
The record’s final track, “Leaving The Planet,” makes it obvious what she means. The single is fittingly uplifting, with lyrics that feel dreamy and appropriately universal - but just when the mood seems to settle, the music rumbles and crashes, knotty guitar lines kick in, and drums clash against Jaffe’s carefully-sussed lyrics. What’s important, however, is not the chaos, but how Jaffe reacts to it: over the record’s final notes, she sings, “Are you leaving the planet?” before echoing, more firmly, “I’m following you.” This last line highlights why the album is so important: Don’t Disconnect is about learning to live with yourself, but it ultimately shows the power of remembering that you don’t have to do it alone.
Sarah Jaffe Don't Disconnect Track Listing:
1. Ride It Out
3. Some People Will Tell You
5. Either Way
6. Don't Disconnect
8. Lover Girl
9. Slow Pour
10. Your Return
12. Leaving the Planet