Jay Som’s ‘Anak Ko’ is the dream-pop songwriter’s most refined album to date

Jay Som’s ‘Anak Ko’ is the dream-pop songwriter’s most refined album to date

Words by Eddy Lim

This is a work of creative mastery.

Multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Melina Duterte’s third full-length effort under the Jay Som moniker, Anak Ko, is one to behold.

While Duterte’s previous records are gems in their own right, Anak Ko feels like she’s finally hit her stride. Her songwriting is sharper and more vivid than ever before, and Duterte’s creative vision and masterful production skills are second to none.

This is prevalent in the album’s impressive opening track, ‘If You Want It’. Brooding guitar lines intersect wobbling synthesizers and Duterte’s multi-layered harmonies, propelling the track towards its chaotic, kaleidoscopic outro.

The album’s greatest strength lies in its lush and organic production. Duterte’s ear for melody is as vibrant as it is judicious; she sonically paints with a dizzying number of colours – each instrument a new shade, every phrase a new landscape. Each song flaunts its own distinctive personality, yet the collection remains entirely cohesive.

‘Tenderness’, another standout track, opens like a waking dream with Duterte’s hushed vocals masked faintly under a lo-fi filter. It’s a momentary respite before the song launches into an addictive, swinging drum beat, punctuated with bursts of muted guitar plucking.

Anak Ko means “my child” in Tagalog, and it’s an apt title; the album symbolically resembles Duterte’s coming-of-age as a songwriter, producer, and instrumentalist.