The Body Wins
Denton-born singer-songwriter SARAH JAFFE first appeared on the scene in 2008 with stark acoustic songs, like “Adeline,” that were fragile but rumbled with tension and urgency. Her full-length debut, 2010’s Suburban Nature, added a rhythm section and turned up the amps a bit but didn’t radically change course. Yet last year, Jaffe surprised everyone with a “transitional” CD/DVD, The Way Sound Leaves a Room, that featured demos of her new songs with hints of burbling electronics. Just what Sound was a transition to is now clear. THE BODY WINS (Kirtland), her second album, is a beat-driven work with buzzing arrangements and an expansive vibe similar to that of Dallasite St. Vincent’s recent Strange Mercy (both share the same Dallas producer, the very busy John Congleton). Jaffe started writing for this project on bass and drums—instruments she doesn’t play—which led her in rewarding directions. The glitchy trip-hop rhythms of the band (including members of Denton groups Midlake and Centro- Matic) suit her haunted melodies well, as do the lush orchestrations, even if the murky sound gives them a dark, muted feel. Jaffe, by her own admission, entered the studio without enough finished material, which is likely why the lyrics seem so sketchy compared with the well-wrought arrangements. But her singing is good enough to get you past all that; when she lets her voice soar on “Hooray for Love” or locks into her spooky mantras (“When You Rest,” “Halfway Right”), her talent is fully illuminated.