On Sunday, we shifted our clocks back one hour, and if you’re anything like me, the time change has not done wonders for your productivity. With Thanksgiving in sight (but not quite close enough to taste) the reappearance of 5:00pm sunsets definitely doesn’t make the final push to the start of the holiday season any easier. I’ve found that a good soundtrack is crucial in staving off the daylight savings blues and, lately, I’ve Got Some Living To Do by Jelani Aryeh has been the proverbial cup of coffee for my soul.
Released in July of 2021 and composed mostly during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the album is a study in playful escapism. Its steady beats and groovy rhythms offset it’s heavy subject matter, and there is something for every listener within his work. Listening to the album from start to finish, it is easy to understand why Aryeh has been described as a genre-transcending artist. The haunting and ethereal tone of the title and closing track, “I’ve Got Some Living To Do,” is in sharp contrast to the driving rhythms of the upbeat “Stella Brown,” and the gentle acoustic guitar which opens “Love Dies At Dawn” could not be more different than the immediate and powerful bassline of “Marigold.” However, the diversity within his work is by no means disorienting – the disparate tracks come together to create an enjoyable and surprisingly cohesive listen.
The album strikes a balance that I find so reminiscent of this time of year: playfulness mixed with a sense of melancholy and reflection. Aryeh is not shy in his approach of difficult subjects, contemplating the concept of identity in a world largely dominated by social media.
Constantly seeking and searching for something / I’ll never notice whether my words are worth my time or focuslyrics from “Overexposed” by Jelani Aryeh
Tracks such as “Bad Nights” and “The Millenium Express” touch on lost love and intrusive thoughts, while the album as a whole tackles the intersections of identity, modern media, and mental health. Accompanying his poignant and vulnerable lyrics are driving bass lines, dissonant harmonies, and even the occasional upbeat synth. On more than one occasion, I’ve found myself head-bopping along as Aryeh sings about feeling as though his life is passing him by–– it’s an odd sensation to be absolutely jamming to his vulnerable accounts of painfully human experiences.
The album is as much a space for reflection through his lyrics as it is an escape through his sound. With beats that can rekindle the productivity spark dampened by early sunsets and lyrics that reflect the often challenging and complicated emotions that come with the impending close of both the semester and year, I’ve Got Some Living To Do is the perfect November soundtrack.
You’ve got some living to do. Listen to I’ve Got Some Living To Do and catch up with life here: