Los Angeles-based Jess Wayne released in June 2016 his album titled Ride the River. The overall experience of it is like riding down a winding, clear-watered river with a steady, slow current on a warm, sunny day—preferably with a cold fruit smoothie in one hand and a good book in the other. This is largely due to the adult contemporary feel of the 10 tracks which feature flavours of folk, blues, jazz, and Americana.
The set has a feel that remains quite homogeneous throughout the album, which can be defined in general terms as mid-tempo, adult contemporary, and relaxing tracks. The vocals are warm and welcoming, inviting listeners as if they were friends to come in for a cup of tea and an uplifting chat. There are, however, unique touches here and there that keep the listeners guessing. A couple of the songs’ use of the keyboard gives them a 1980s pop rock feel, such as “Better Get Used to It”, “Say Goodbye to Hollywood”, and “Hold On”.
Most of the tracks are happy in nature, especially “Next Time Around”, with notable exceptions including “Why Don’t You Lie to Me” and “Say Goodbye Hollywood”, both of which are quite melancholic.
The overall above-mentioned genre (adult contemporary) is flavoured in different ways in a few of the tracks. A hint of folk and a pop twist touches on “Better Get Used to It” while jazz notes pepper “Make It Up to You”. “Taken You Home Last Night” features folk influences. “How Do You Know” is a standout, being a very chill bluesy rock track featuring rhythmic drums and relaxed guitars dripping with attitude.
While the same instruments are used throughout the set, some of them particularly pop out more in some of the tracks than in others. In “Next Time Around”, listeners will no doubt really notice the accordion and the piano. The female backing vocals are attention-grabbing in “Why Don’t You Lie to Me” while the guitar work in “Garden Song” stands out.
Ride the River makes for a relaxing and familiar listen that fans of adult contemporary music will no doubt love losing themselves in. Tracks are available for streaming on SoundCloud. More information about Jess Wayne is available on his official website and his Facebook page.