French Pop star Jain releases new album Souldier after almost 3 years, and she brought her worldwide influences and inspirations with her
Words by Karan Teli
When you think of the Social Media Era and music, you think of artists gaining norite and success from platforms like SoundCloud, Twitter and Instagram. But Jain, the 26-year-old French Pop star got her start from a Social Media platform we all should remember – MySpace. Talk about an ultimate throwback. The singer spent her whole childhood travelling; growing up in Toulouse, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Paris – just to name a handful. Jain has said that her debut album, Zanaka, was inspired by her childhood and teenage years.
But, here we are, almost 3 years later, with the release of Jain’s latest album – Souldier. Combining the two words Soul and Soldier for the album title gave me some sort of idea what the themes and subject matter of the album would be, but also scepticism about how Jain would use these themes in Pop music. Also, her admittance of being influenced by ‘Kendrick Lamar flows and Bob Marley melodies’ added to not only the excitement, but the curiosity.
The subject of love and relationships are tackled immediately, with the album beginning with an up-tempo, catchy, potential hit record song entitled On My Way, with Jain almost pleading someone to be honest with her and express their true feelings to her. The song ends with a memorable, string outro, almost like something at the end of a choir. Jain immediately shows the different styles and sounds of music she has learnt and been inspired by on her travels all over the world, which transition into Flash; the album’s shortest but probably catchiest song. Well, I say probably because, Alright, the albums lead single, which has already racked over 5 million views online has a case for that title. A song about embracing positivity and love from the people around you, Alright provides a feel-good factor that is consistent with good Pop music.
Oh Man; a song with production that has clear Asian and Ethnic inspiration, is about experiencing real true love for the first time in your life, also with mention of Jain’s worldwide travels – ‘dancing in Rio, living the dream.’ The song ends with a Sitar solo (or at least an instrument which sounds very much like a Sitar), furthermore highlighting the Asian influence on the song. But, as we enter the second half of the album, the traditional, upbeat Pop sounds begin to fade away, as the songs become much grander and almost ballad-like. One element that is sometimes criticized about full-length Pop albums is the lack of diversity when it comes to sounds; but with all her cultural and musical influences, there was no way Jain was going to fall into this category. Inspecta is the albums loudest and grandest song, while Dream would be described as a ballad before you’d call it a Pop song. With that being said, the chorus on Dream, while grand and passionate, is very easy to sing along too. Star, the albums second single is like an insight into Jain’s dairy. She is talking to the listener, but also herself, in a song that she described as ‘self-mockery.’ The lyrics discuss being stuck in the middle between chasing success but avoiding the fame that comes with it – ‘You wanna be a star but can’t stand the light’. Jain is very aware that it is very hard to obtain one without obtaining the other. The song also contains my favourite line from the entire album, which tells us a lot about Jain – ‘I don’t need no MBA to know music’s my DNA.’
Feel It, along with the albums penultimate song Abu Dhabi are two more grand, melodic songs which take Souldier away from the more traditional Pop sound that was all over the first half of the album, before the title track, Souldier, rounds off the album. The darkest and perhaps most meaningful song on the album (it is inspired by the Orlando Nightclub shooting in 2016) is saved for last by Jain. The play on words between Soul and Souldier fit perfectly with the lyrics; as Jain talks about a soldier, despite everything he may have seen in his life, is somebody that is filled with peace, love and positivity in his soul.
It is a beautiful sentiment to wrap up a feel good and memorable project. Souldier, almost 3 years in the making, has been highly anticipated by fans, and Jain has delivered them a project which will bring out a range of emotions and dance moves throughout ten songs, before being capped off with a smile after learning that almost 3 years of waiting was worth it.