Jay Alan Kay "Songs Before Work" SWR021


Jay Alan Kay (a.k.a. Jason Kotarski) has been embedded in the Michigan DIY scene for more than 20 years, most notably as the singer and guitar player for Singing Lungs (Count YourLucky Stars Records, Sell The Heart Records). In his debut solo album, “Songs Before Work”,he explores his more impulsive side with 13 songs of lofi singer-songwriter tunes steeped in equal parts Americana and punk rock.

In his basement, in the early hours of the day before heading to shifts at his day job where he works as a librarian, Jay Alan Kay recorded the songs on a vintage Tascam 238 cassette recorder that allegedly once belonged to Anthony Kedis’ father. Playing all the instruments and often finishing the songwriting as the songs were put to tape led to the feeling of urgency that permeates the album.

The approach to writing and recording was inspired by Jay Alan Kay's pilgrimage to see GuidedBy Voices for the first time in Dayton, Ohio for their two day run of 40th anniversary shows. A recent convert to the GBV cult, the weekend was an initiation of sorts. Jay Alan Kay decided to follow the experience with a notebook of ideas and a desire to see what they could become while his band, Singing Lungs, was experiencing a lull in action between other life events. The album writing process shifted focus from “maybe someday” to “how about now” before spending too much time overthinking.

Thematically, the songs range from on-the-nose simplicity to self-assured ambiguity. “Minivan”explores a lifetime of vehicles owned as markers for significant life changes. “I Wanna Buy TheirRecords” puts Jay Alan Kay on display as a proud, punk dad who is hopeful for the next generation or artists. “A Loyal Friend” reflects on a neighbor’s dog and the fragility of life and connection. “15 Minutes” is about showing up for loved ones with mental health concerns.“Astronaut” takes a vague shape putting together moments jumping off the page of a book.

“Songs Before Work” stands well as a collection of songs as much as the individual songs stand for themselves, clearing out the creative cache to make room for the next inspiration bound to strike.

RIKL: Guided By Voices, Dazy, Young Guv, Wilco, Tom Petty, Teenage Fanclub

Pressing Information

CD - /100