Jacob Collier Approaches Pop Categorization With Djesse Vol. 3

It’s certainly no secret that Jacob Collier is an outrageously talented musician; after all, when family pastimes involve singing Bach chorales… what else was to be expected?

From his days as a Youtube sensation until now, Collier has been labelled as many things, most of which are positive. That statement of course leaves room for the negative. Despite making leaps and bounds as a producer and performer (check out the logic session breakdown for “All I Need”), there remains a fair few who long to see him fulfill his potential as a writer. After hearing Collier’s latest release, Djesse Vol. 3, I must say I share those same feelings.

As the nightclub-esque/electronic entry in Collier’s four part Djesse series, this album fittingly opens with the eargasmic thriller that is “CLARITY.” I consider this to be a preface as it teases the listener with brief snippets of the album compounded into one enticing explosion of sound. This first track then directly leads into the true beginning of the album, “Count The People.” Featuring Jessie Reyez and T-Pain, “Count The People” steps in a direction most wouldn’t expect. Instead of receiving treatment with Collier’s signature vocal arrangements, we’re handed an exhilarating and declarative rap… until roughly under two minutes into the song where Collier boldly breaks the song down into overproduced bombast. I appreciate the chaotic nature of “CLARITY” as it’s done tastefully and with purpose, but this? I’m not into it, and that’s concerning coming from someone who willingly sits through all eight and a half minutes of “Revolution 9.”

Thankfully, “In My Bones” follows and allows for reparations. In fact, with its “funkasized” style this may very well be my favourite Collier song to date. Kimbra and Collier ecstatically pursue one another overtop a divine and lively beat. Tarriona “Tank” Ball makes an appearance here as well, intoxicating the listener with her presence as always. “Time Alone With You” is next in all its romantically quirky glory. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Collier is the oddball between him and guest artist Daniel Caesar. A streak of masterfully crafted collaborations is continued with “All I Need”: a genuine pop perfection with accompaniment from Mahalia and Ty Dolla $ign. “In Too Deep” brings the side to a close with enchantment thanks to Kiana Ledé. We can really hear Collier’s pull towards the pop scene with a digital imitation of a hi-hat.

A mixed bag best describes songs contained on side two. The opener, “Butterflies,” may be engaging at first but soon dumbs itself down to simple noise.

“Sleeping On My Dreams” is a standout thanks to its playful nature and unique sounds. Tori Kelly shines especially bright on “Running Outta Love,” though that’s not to say Collier isn’t present; you can clearly hear his artistic contributions with each verse laid over the downright addicting beat.

Then comes “Light It Up On Me.” All things must pass, right? I could visualize myself listening with interest had this come out of the analog era, however as editing and the application of effects can be done with such ease (at least in comparison to past recording technologies) this song isn’t particularly meaningful.

There’s almost a yin and yang between the previous track and Rapsody’s “He Won’t Hold You.” The former felt empty and unnecessary while this track is full of life. “To Sleep” closes the album as a whole in an equally pleasant manner. I especially appreciated the backwards guitar blips heard here; it seems to me that Collier included this as a nod to The Beatles’ Revolver.

Although the album made its digital debut in August, Djesse Vol. 3 is now available in the best format of all: vinyl. Hear the breath of the vocals pass you by. Experience the excitement of an incredibly dynamic low register as it perpetually grows and lessens to match the tune. This is a sublime package in terms of fidelity, believe me.

As most newer vinyl releases are, this is an 180 gram pressing. That’s not just a claim as it does weigh in at 183 grams. My copy is about as centered as they come and flatter than a pancake. Pressing is credited to a German plant of mysterious identity, which is a shame as I don’t know who to praise. I was slightly disappointed in opening the seal only to pull out a cardstock inner sleeve, but it’s an artistic continuation of the cover that contains various credits so I’ll allow it.

I can picture myself revisiting Djesse Vol. 3 from time to time, especially the singles, yet I can’t say that I was blown away. Once again has Jacob Collier proven himself to be a more than capable producer and performer. Still, behind the numerous collaborations and overproduced missteps, I still await the day he creates a presentable representation of his own being.


Bob Lefsetz Podcast with Jacob Collier:






(Nathan Zeller is a music-adoring Beatles fanatic from the chilling lands of Western Canada. Born with a piano teacher for a father, and a teacher at a music-oriented elementary school for a mother, you could say he didn’t choose this life, rather it chose him. Currently Nathan is enjoying a plentiful supply of candy canes as he prepares for his favourite holiday. Follow Nathan on Instagram @nathanmzeller)