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“You seek the rhythm, you live for the fight”
Dana Jade’s rock siren was born and raised in tropical Trinidad, and spent summers in New York with her father, soaking up a pancultural palette of influences, from riot grrrl and grunge to blues and Trinidadian rapso. As a teen, Jade found herself frustrated with the folksy acoustic songs advocated by her guitar teachers and bored with the respectable Presbyterian piano songs she was encouraged to learn at home, drawn instead to the raucous energy of the electric guitar. The rock matriarchs who’d go on to inspire her - Patti Smith, Joan Jett - were absent from Trinidadian mainstream charts, but Madonna’s subversive anthems piped out of radios abundantly, and Ciccone’s charged raunch pop afforded Jade a liberation she’d come to enjoy in a grittier, less polished form: punk rock. Jade’s own punk rock awakening came in 1995, after seeing Courtney Love snarling and spitting her way through a Hole performance at MTV's VMA awards. Emboldened, Jade emigrated to London in 2002, armed with the trusty Fender Strat she’d picked up from a store on New York City’s 48th street. She found community and friendship on London’s underground club/live music scene, becoming a regular at Club Motherfucker, where she was recruited by Gaggle front-woman Deborah Coughlin. She joined the all-girl alt choir for 3 years, performing at Reading Festival and guesting on Later…with Jools Holland with My Morning Jacket, all the while committed to her solo craft, notching up a support slot for John Parish at London’s Water Rats before departing the collective in early 2012 to refine the songs that make up this gutsy, attitudinal debut.
Jade’s eponymous debut sees her embodying rock’s travelling protagonist with gusto, capturing the passionate affairs, bitter betrayals and sensual revelries that have marked out her cross-continent adventures. Electric guitar pervades, but Jade transforms rock’s standard conventions by drawing on the musical tropes of her native Trinidad, fusing cathartic distortion-fuelled power chords with tropical inspired tempos and reverb-kissed dub bridges, a style she refers to as ‘Caribbean rock’. The album was co-produced by drummer Ian McKenzie, and features Linda Perry’s bassist Paul Ill (Courtney Love, Juliette Lewis) who took over from John MacKenzie for a guest spot on ‘Lust’. The bluesy punk of early PJ Harvey and the rebellion of The Clash have inspired Jade, but it’s the primal, sexual energy of rock that truly fires this record, and Jade delivers her missives accordingly, with mouth pressed close to the microphone for soft seductive growls and seething challenges that break out into shuddering yells come the chorus. The songs are tension-filled and volatile, from the burning, sultry opener of upcoming single ‘Eyes Like Cinder’ to the rage-filled polyamory-busting stomp of ‘She Or I Go’, and though gritty reverb may power the album, the jumping rhythms that drive everything are equally potent, from the hard rock pummelling of ‘Gritting Teeth’ and the steady kick of ‘Little Sister’s anthem for sisterhood and self-empowerment, to the soca-inflected percussion on ‘The End of The Line’ and ‘Dark As Midnight’. Consider Jade’s tropical femme-fatal rock affair a debut to be reckoned with.
- Charlotte Richardson Andrews
The Guardian, Wears The Trousers, Diva Magazine