Review Summary: currently rewarding
At this point, it's a cliché to open interviews, reviews, etc. with a statement like this, but it's the truth - Lanza didn't make All the Time
with quarantine in mind, but it's perfect for this uniquely 2020 crisis. The opening track's main hook is "anyone around? Anyone?" and it's hard not to see the connections from there on out. Many of these lyrics can be easily applied to people who are stuck by themselves - from "would you rather be lonely?" to "while I'm living in a bubble" to "when you're far away, seems so sweet to settle down." More key to the feeling of being secluded than the words she sings is the way she sings them, a longing, distant style that tends to stick to her middle register more than you might be used to for a Jessy Lanza record. This is less exciting, and therefore fits better with the often boring lives many of us have found ourselves living for the past few months. That's not to say it's a dull album - far from it.
This is a sparser and slower project than her usual fare, yes, with less footwork and glitch elements, but this allows for more visibility for some of the more fascinating sounds in her catalog. "Lick in Heaven" is a great example of this, which drops everything else out for a bridge that sounds like some of the weirder sides of Warp. Or "Badly," which opens with an echoing cadence like falling into a dream in a 90s TV show, and follows that up by using stuttering static and burping bass to build the percussion for the track. "Like Fire" features what are presumably her vocals twisted into something that sounds like green language, and "Baby Love" has a backtrack like bubbling soup. Lanza has continued to refine her extreme production and vocal talent into something new and bright. In interviews, she cited the new sound of this album coming from For this release, she was influenced more by 80s R&B and DJing. The DJ influence is easy to spot - these are briefer tracks than her past works, more suited for an impatient dancefloor that demands quick shifts. It's obvious she's been mixing more and more since her last album, for everyone from Gorilla vs. Bear to Groove. The 80s R&B influence is also clear, with more slow-paced ballad-esque songs, bells and keys, like New Edition or Mariah Carey.
But other music is not the main thing that affected this. What actually formed the themes of this album and most of the choices behind it were emotions. Lanza moved from Hamilton to New York shortly after her last record, which led to her feeling homesick, burnt out, and alone. She channeled these emotions - emotions that are oddly universal for people now during COVID-19 - into her music. The title itself is named after the push she would feel constantly to work on herself after exhaustion with touring and relationship problems. Many of these songs are frustrated, upset at partners and how little moving helped her. "Lick in Heaven" is particularly angry, inspired by being so mad that there's "no return" and there is a "detachment from reality." This is not immediately obvious on listening to All The Time
, which is pleasant enough to play as background noise if you really want. But further focus is rewarded with a deeper experience, sadder and more upset than you might hear the first time. These are feelings many of us have now, in this strange time period, when so many of us are unemployed and have all the time in the world to concentrate on self-care and improvement of our lives and relationships, but feel too isolated or too bugged by those we spend our lives with to do much. So if you need a companion or just someone to empathize with, listen to Lanza, and then listen to her again.