Jimi Somewhere – Nothing Gold Can Stay

Jimi Somewhere is a 22-year-old hip-hopish artist who grew up in Norway. To be accurate, he’s still growing up. That’s what his first, full-length album is all about.

That’s also what makes him hard to categorize. He shows a hint of Beck’s lonerism throughout this project, but without the jaded outlook and sarcasm.  He can be as prayerful, melancholy and introspective as a Pet Sounds-era Brian Wilson, but without the loadstone of profound psychological injury. A disciple of Kevin Abstract, Kendrick Lamar, and Frank Ocean, he identifies with hip hop and rap, but he’s no street-hardened urban survivor.

With Nothing Gold Can Stay, he takes us cruising through the chambers of his young heart. His unguarded lyrics and engaging delivery turn topics that could be mundane or TMI into irresistible listening. His songs seem to come from that voice inside that most of us edit or keep quiet. The 12 tracks spotlight in an arrestingly honest way the moments and thoughts that make youth joyous, painful, uncertain and disorienting. Actually, the unusual first track is a caring, don’t-get-stuck-in-the-past monologue from friend and fellow performer James Quartz.

After that, the music begins in earnest with “Bottle Rocket,” a thumping, electro-pop number that would make Taylor Swift proud. But don’t get used to it. The rest of the album unfolds like an avant-garde film, each track fading in, presenting a distinct mood and story fragment, then dissolving to the next. There’s an ethereal and effervescent quality that keeps these soundscapes more intriguing than somber. Rhymes are left loose or omitted entirely where they might detract from the story – a refreshing change. There is poetry here, but it’s so earthy, straightforward and free-flowing that it might slip by undetected.

Nothing Gold Can Stay is pure, ultra-personal Jimi Somewhere from beginning to end, but it’s hardly a solo project. Milo Orchis, Jimi’s childhood friend and longtime collaborator, lends polished and well-considered production to keep things interesting while maintaining a cohesive experience. Featured performers Kacy Hill, Jon Waltz, and Orchis blend with their respective tracks seamlessly, accentuating Jimi’s monologues with complementary textures. On “Tears, 16,” the fluid, warbly guitar of Heavy Mellow is an inspired addition, perfectly conveying the queasy, lovesick sentiment of the track. The end result is a definite upgrade from the 2019 EP Ponyboy and an impressive first album.

Jimi Somewhere is like a bird still assessing and grappling with the terrifying peril and awesome freedom of his wings. This album is an interesting flight.

Jimi Somewhere
Nothing Gold Can Stay
[Next Wave/Ultra]