Review: Jessie Reyez’s “Shutter Island” is a Plathian Masterpiece

Jessie Reyez

If Sylvia Plath turned her addled poetry into hip-pop music, she’d probably make something similar to Jessie Reyez’s “Shutter Island.” Within Reyez’s world, we find many of the same tropes: pain and suffering masked as entertainment, a crowd of voices questioning our protagonist’s sanity, and an incisive narrative voice. Like in many of Plath’s poems, Reyez is caught in an abusive relationship that consumes her entire being—and is made to believe that it’s all her fault.

But with sounds, the Toronto-bred artist paints an even deeper, more disturbing picture than is possible with words alone. The track kicks off with a jaunting piano line and whispered verses that intensify before Reyez belts the chorus. There, she dons a custom-made strait jacket that symbolizes her waffling grasp on the truth. At times the situation is crystal clear to her (“Im crazy, just like Galileo), but that discernment just as often refracts like light beamed onto a funhouse mirror, giving birth to ghoulish chitters, jeers, and sighs that interrupt her along the way.

But without a convincing star, this show could all be just smoke and mirrors. Luckily, Reyez’s arresting delivery leaves no doubt that this anguish is very real. She jumps between rigid assertions (“Let’s just break up”) and meek concessions (“I guess you were right”), using the full span of her instrument to illustrate the polar nature of her relationship. It’s a promising, exciting track from an artist who clearly has a hell of a lot to offer, in addition to a full EP on the horizon.

Check out Jessie Reyez’s “Shutter Island” from her upcoming EP, “Kiddo,” set for release on April 21st.


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