HomeMusicJay Middleton Releases Six Song EP

    Jay Middleton Releases Six Song EP

    I was unfamiliar with Jay Middleton’s work before hearing his new EP release Forward and its charms immediately drew me in. The six song EP promotes a forward-looking message, there are no odes to despair over the course of this release, but it isn’t looking at the world through rose-tinted glasses or adopting a Pollyanna approach to life. Instead, Middleton acknowledges the struggles that we face in our daily lives, but lifts listeners with music that says we can keep our chins up through such storms. This mature and thoughtful take on life will appeal to many. Coupled with superb musicianship and winning arrangements makes these six songs must hear. It’s another milestone in a four plus decade long musical career and shows he has no intentions of stopping or slowing down.


    I am completely swept away by the first song “Last Time”. Middleton picked this for the EP’s first single and it proves to be a perfect introduction to his talents for me. He’s a soul singer who gives every ounce of himself over to this track. The backing singers are a little sulfurous to me as Middleton has enough lung power to carry any tune by himself, but I understand why they are here. I think the organ fills provided by producer Carl Wheeler are an especially nice touch, as are the horns.

    I love how he structures the second tune “I Like the Way” – particularly the piano. Its condensed and melodic runs peppering the song are just what the track needs to help push it over the top and his unabashed emotion comes through in every line. The vocal phrasing is fantastic. It’s a love song expressing sentiments we’ve heard a thousand times before, if not more, but Middleton owns this one and it glistens with freshness that should be attractive to countless listeners. “Whispers” is a lovely example of how to write and perform a soulful tune with acoustic guitar and construct it in such a way that it makes use of dynamics. The rising and ebbing of the arrangement is well suited to Middleton’s voice and he knows how to take control of the song without ever putting the music in the backseat.

    “Forward”, the title track, is another example of that. There isn’t so much rising and falling in this one, but he continues refusing to pit his voice against the instruments and instead sings along with the arrangement. It’s a lyrical highlight as well. I am really quite taken aback at his utter honesty, a man questioning himself and yet finding the reason to go on. The nuance of the song is a consistent element driving the entire EP. It’s the high point of a release with no low points. Jay Middleton has written and performed a set of songs that any listener can relate to without straining to find a connection. I find it mighty impressive that, after four decades of performing, he sounds like a young man and he’s still working at the top of his game.

    Trace Whittaker

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