Gone are the humble, acoustic beginnings that marked Texas singer/songwriter Sarah Jaffe’s debut EP in 2008. So too are the influences that lead her to perform with alternative and rock icons like Jon Brion and Dinosaur Jr./Sebadoh’s Lou Barlow. Instead, on her third full-length studio album, Don’t Disconnect, Jaffe sounds like she’s reaching for pop levels of musicality and notoriety.
Maybe it’s because of Jaffe’s most recent collaborators; she’s been writing and performing with Erykah Badu’s band The Cannabinoids, as well as rapper/producer S1 (who’s worked with Beyoncé, Kanye West, Jay Z and Ghostface Killah). Or maybe it’s just that the draw toward electro-pop is simply more mainstream these days. Opener “Ride It Out” has uncannily similar intonation to the “Light ‘em up up up” refrain of Fall Out Boy’s “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark,” but set to a synthesized beat. First single “Lover Girl” almost demands a remix, with its ethereal and repetitive vocals. Even the title track broods like a Lana Del Rey song.
Jaffe’s voice still penetrates throughout Don’t Disconnectand McKenzie Smith of the band Midlake makes sure that the delicate production doesn’t overshadow her songwriting. But while Don’t Disconnect may be compatible with mainstream electro-pop, it’s likely to confound fans of Jaffe’s previous efforts.