Amidst the blinding whiteness and pervasive bro culture of Vancouver’s music industry, Laydy Jams have made a home for themselves, and for anyone else who needs one. Their debut self titled EP welcomes the listener to find a safe space within their music. MC Missy D passionately repeats this refrain in the first track of the EP: “Home is where I belong. Home is you, my friends. Home is in the song you listenin’ to.”
Laydy Jams is three women of colour who are musically diverse, talented, and above all else, friends. It is this intimacy which binds the group together, uniting their discordant interests into a whole. Rosa Bennett is the jazzy songstress with a voice that rivals Norah Jones and an ability to ad lib like Sarah Vaughn. On tracks like “Home,” her soprano runs seem effortless, and it’s her warm, alto verses that give a vintage feel to the entire EP.
Missy D matches Bennet’s jazzy voice with an expressive flow reminiscent of rap legend Eve. Throughout the EP, D draws from her personal experiences in order to infuse lyrics with a touching vulnerability. In “Old School Love,” her fellow band members string delicate harmonies à la Be Good Tanyas. When it’s her turn to take the mic, Missy D brings the song to life with her animated style and relatable passion.
Laydy Jams’ backing vocalist and violinist Sejal Narsey, on the other hand, provides warmth and harmonic ear candy. From her classical training and background in bhangra dance music, to her years playing with folk band 41st and Home, Narsey brings the unexpected to each song. Her violin intro for “All of it,” distinctly inspired by South Asian music, gives the song an edge that transitions smoothly into Missy D’s passionate, biting verse. While the country fiddle of “Cherry On Top” provides the song with a happy-go-lucky levity.
The end result of this menagerie of influences is an EP that feels like walking in on a jam session between friends, who welcome you to sit down and add your own unique vibe to the mix. You can imagine the buzz of the amp as you plug in your instrument of choice and play whatever you want, knowing that no one will judge you or your musical background. Instead of trying to sound like everyone else, you each take turns steering the music from joyful, to rebellious, to nostalgic. In a music scene full of chill white guys playing “experimental-folk” or “psych-rock,” Laydy Jams is a breath of fresh air. Their long awaited debut is a warm welcome for all the square pegs who do not fit into the round hole which is too-cool-for-school Vancouver.