Jem Griffiths is a lovely artist from Wales. I haven't seen much about her on these forums and it's a shame. When you think of solo female artists, it's hard to get the thought of Sarah McLachlan or Dido out of your head, but on Jem's debut album Finally Woken, she outdoes her predecessors, and creates an album that is one of the finest of 2004. Jem effectively fuses soothing vocals with creative sampling and electronic beats to create songs that show off her incredible song "building" abilities.
The album starts off with one of the stronger songs. If you have heard only one song from Jem, this is probably it. The songs starts out with a choir singing "ba ba da". It is quickly joined by an electronic beat and Jem's spoken vocals. The song goes into a great pre-chorus with some synthesized soothing noises behind her vocals. She also samples some children playing, which fits the song perfectly. The high point is definately the chorus. The backing choir and Jem's vocals along with the electric beat are just so catchy, it's difficult to put into words. There is an awful lot going on in this song with no real traditional instrumentation, which is rather amazing. All in all, this is just a great song. 5/5
Come On Closer
The songs starts off with some twinkling instrument, which is joined by what sounds like some strings before the electronic drums come in. This song has a bit darker vocals than the previous, and the heavy guitar part that comes in (the first sign of guitar on the album) almost sounds cut and pasted in, which is really the only bad part of the song. The vocals are nice, and the rest of the song is good, the guitar just seems a tiny bit out of place. This isn't one of the stronger songs on the album, but nonetheless, it isn't a bad song. 3/5
This song starts off with some bird chirping samples, some soothing humming from Jem, light guitar, and then the electronic drums. Jem's vocals of "finally woken" are just so catchy. Her accent on this song is amazing. The electronic samples in this song are so well placed, and the chorus of the song with the overlay of her singing "finally woken" is good too. The lyrics are a bit cliche, but when she sings "todays the first day of the rest of your life", the song hits it's high. It is such a great and comforting song, and is definately my favorite on the album. 5/5
It seems the trend is going to be light breezy song/slightly darker song/light breezy song/slightly darker song at this point. This is another song that is vocally driven, with the "save me" hook coming in in the beginning and lasting throughout. The high point is in the middle where Jem sings on several levels, and the hamonization is incredible. The instrumentation is rather repetitive, luckily this song is driven just fine by her vocal abilities. The song is really growing on me as I just listen to it again now. I feel this is another really good song. 4.5/5
This is the second dark song in a row, and the first real evidence that Jem knows how to create a rock song. Honestly, she is better sticking to the pop songs I think. The strings, and guitar blend ok with her more serious vocals. Again, nothing to musically complicated, but that really isn't the goal. If there is one downside, again it is the cut/paste guitar. This is another song that I feel is rather average when compared to the rest on the album. 3/5
This song was written for a friend who died, and as a result is a pretty sad song. This is not Jem at her best as far as songwriting goes, but she takes the song and uses her beautiful vocals to make up for a lack of feeling in the instrumentation. This isn't a great song either, and I'm not sure it accomplishes what it set out to do. It is not really a song that you get emotional listening to which I think was the goal. The main problem is that Jem's vocals, while lovely, always seem a bit detatched. 2.5/5
This song is a bit of a throwback pop song. Awesome popish, almost carribean vibe to it. The song is warm and breezy and gets the album back into a mood in which I feel Jem is best suited. This sounds like the kind of song to listen to while sipping a tropical drink on a beach somewhere. The warm, happy Jem is much better than the somber one, and this song is clear evidence of that. 5/5
Just A Ride
I like the instrumentation on this song a lot, and the lyrics are great, but I feel that the harmonies are really a bit weak, and there is no real hook. The middle of the song is rather formulaic with a synthesized noise that starts off soft and grows louder into a bit of sonic crazyness. The vocals get rather repetitive near the end too. 3.5/5
Falling For You
This is a bit of a somber song for Jem, but this is one of her stronger songs nonetheless. Finally she has some emotion in her vocals, and I can really feel her pain. The instrumentation is just adequate, but the chorus is spectacular. The use of guitar isn't forced like before, and really fits the mood of the song nicely. This is another great one. 5/5
A beautiful song here, it is light and breezy, and the strings in the background gives the song an almost dreamy quality to it. This is almost lullaby sounding, and I love it. I think I underappreciated this song the first time around. It is now my new favorite. Jem has such an amazing voice on this song. 5/5
This song is the simplest musically on the album, a simple guitar part and some soaring synthesization are really the only accompaniment to the vocals, which no suprise are again very nice. Beautiful harmonies litter this song. This song is a bit on the dreary side, but is another good one. 4/5
All in all, this is a very enjoyable album that I wish more people would hear and appreciate.