JP Saxe is a sad, sad boy and, unlike most, he isn’t afraid to let the entire world know who hurt him.
The fiery redhead can accurately be described as an up-and-coming Ed Sheeran. However, Saxe remains mostly behind the mic, combining poetic lyrics with smooth vocals.
His songwriting varies from Sheeran’s in that it is less removed and generalized. Saxe reaches an emotional vulnerability unmatched by many other acoustic songwriters, letting listeners into his inner dialogue and cycle of thoughts. Saxe pours his heart out onto the page. The stories of both his personal battles and victories transition seamlessly to song.
Saxe released his debut EP “Hold It Together” on Feb. 7, giving sentimental singles a week to rejoice before facing the looming holiday of love that is Valentine’s Day. “Hold It Together” details all aspects of dating and prompts reminiscing on happier days spent carelessly in the company of another.
Voices such as Saxe’s are common and make for easy listening, leading listeners to gloss over the artist’s work in favor of something more dramatic. However, the tone of Saxe’s voice improves the overall experience of his work rather than hindering it.
Easy listening is not always a bad thing, especially when the essence of Saxe as an artist shines through. Distractions from a lack of eloquence, such as auto-tuned croons or harsh rasp, aren’t needed.
Upon multiple listens, it becomes evident Saxe utilizes all aspects of a song to craft the perfect piece.
His pacing and inflections match the emotion driving the song, with Saxe speeding up or slowing down, depending on the feeling he wants to instill. Saxe often begins a song quietly with one instrument, such as the piano, before building to a high point near the end, replicating the peaks and valleys experienced during the healing process.
I first stumbled across JP Saxe in the midst of complete chaos, with his heartfelt song of yearning for a past partner in challenging moments perfectly juxtaposing the scene in the airport before me. Lufthansa, a major German airline, went on strike the day multiple students from Gonzaga in Florence were traveling to Krakow, Poland.
His soft-spoken collaboration on “If the World Was Ending” with Julia Michaels put me in my feelings, and left me reflecting on a particular lost connection. The song resonated with me on an unanticipated level, and caused me to reach out to someone after months of silence.
Admittedly, the song itself follows the typical structure of a sappy ballad, but Saxe’s single struck a chord within me. It’s telling I find myself returning to the song, unlike so many other ballads that grasp at relatable phrases and catchy melodies. The first notes on the piano transport listeners back to memories that hold too much gravity to forget.
His songwriting sets him apart, and will keep him relevant in a consumer society always looking for the next big thing. Listeners feel as though they are with a friend, rather than hearing another wealthy white boy whine about how their heart is broken. He creates an atmosphere of friendly intimacy
The title track, “Hold It Together,” fixed pieces of me I did not recognize were broken, and answered many open questions concerning my role in past relationships. Saxe details the challenge of leaving old habits and tendencies in the past when starting a new relationship.
The biggest takeaway is one can be grateful for past relationships and maintain qualities they developed with other partners, while still leaving the physical person behind. Appreciation for growth and improvement does not require forcing a conversation when there’s nothing productive left to say.
Ultimately, Saxe is not contributing anything radical to the music scene, and very well could continue to fly under the radar. However, his conversational lyrics and ability to make listeners recognize themselves in explanations of his relationships is refreshing. His honesty sits in perfect balance between commitment to constructive criticism of his own behavior and self-indulgent wallowing.
“Hold It Together” creates a solid foundation for Saxe, who, more than anything, seems like a genuinely good guy. It’s evident he wants to be better, which is a desire mainstream artists rarely express.
If anything, play the EP on rainy days when the comfort of blankets and coffee isn’t quite enough.