Discovering an artist at their emergence, untapped and unexplored, is one of the greatest pleasures of a music-lover; the only thing better is when you can divine the potential it holds, knowing that what you just heard has a determined sense of direction – a place to go. Jeans Shephard’s debut single ‘Burden’ is a neo-soul reverie sourced from somewhere visceral and honest, unconcerned with hip-hop bravado while still gripping firmly onto the genre’s realism.
The 26-year-old from New England released ‘Burden’ in the midst of expecting his first child. Dedicated to, or for a loved one, Shephard’s music holds the promise of being emotive portraits of personal thoughts and struggles, whilst inciting empathy and understanding from a universal audience.
With a lavish, soulful horn section weighted down with a laid-back beat, the result is languorous and sultry like a lazy summer afternoon. The tussle between these soul sensibilities and hip-hop is almost Rejjie Snow-like: Jeans Shephard, too, swings between monotone, free-thinking rap verses and smooth, sung choruses that make every track infectious. The lo-fi production gives ‘Burden’ a sense of sincerity. In a genre that has grown murky with high-quality, polished masterworks, Jeans Shephard’s work feels like a product of love. It was made by him, for him, and now he is giving it to us.