It’s time for Jorja Chalmers to step fully into the spotlight. The London musician, who has toured with Bryan Ferry as his keyboardist-saxophonist and with Take That and the Ting Tings, will be releasing her sophomore album Midnight Train on May 28 through Johnny Jewel’s Italians Do It Better label. And her sound couldn’t be more at home under Jewel’s umbrella of Lynchian noisemakers and cinematic collaborators.
Her talent for this shade of avant-pop eeriness was on full display with her debut Human Again, which was released in 2019, where Jewel served as executive producer. Her often spare synth-based compositions can seem simultaneously austere and exquisite, building to an emotional release that can expertly lacerate your heartstrings, thrumming them into oblivion. There’s a hidden world within her music, a deeper level of awareness that only shows bits of itself over time.
This sense of complex perspective can be seen in her new video for single “Bring Me Down”, a gorgeous and complicated look at the perils of domesticity and social convention. Chalmers creates a haunting atmosphere of noirish shadows and simmering repression by describing the video as: “A take on the fragility of perfection. A 1970ʼs house-wife devotes her life to her family and friends. Glossy smiles, tea parties, and dusters cover a broken mental interior.”
Directed by Tom Dream, the clip finds her hosting a dinner party, and it rests upon her face and her interactions with the unseen guests. As subtle synth atmospheres weave in and around her striking voice, the view slowly pulls back to reveal empty seats and the slowly disintegrating façade of the normality in which she finds herself. What has led to this ghostly gathering? Every so often, her face betrays an understanding of the situation before the mask slips back on, and she returns to her conversations. There is pain and a desire for some sort of thoughtful comfort etched into her being. Can she ever escape and what would that mean for her?