“Don’t Let the Sun Set on Me” by JAD is a gentle acoustic indie folk song that’s the musical equivalent of the summer golden hour sun seeping in between the leaves. It’s a late afternoon, golden hour lullaby that’s meant to soundtrack a film reel of sepia-toned memories.
For simplicity’s sake, this song could be described as having the folk-blues texture of the Milk Carton Kids and the serene humming melodies of Sufjan Stevens; though bear in mind that it truly creates its own space within the indie folk sphere. While there’s a likeness to those names, it would be an injustice to strip it of its ability to be totally unique in its own right.
It’s a long song, lasting just over 7 minutes long, but not once does it ever feel monotonous or repetitive. Through changing melodies, layered guitar tracks, and lush harmonies, it keeps the listener interested and asking where it will go next. In fact, the 7 minutes goes by so quickly, it begs a second listen just to digest all those B sections and different guitar textures. It’s no easy feat to hold a listener’s attention for 7 minutes, but JAD’s authentic storytelling and mastery of guitar proves that not only is it possible, but that the listener will restart it as soon as it ends for a second round.
Lyrically, “Don’t Let the Sun Set on Me” is about desperately clinging to the moment and fearing its loss as it happens— wanting to remain in the happiest of moments forever, but being hyper-aware of how quickly it can pass us by. It’s like a breakup song not for a relationship, but for those experiences we know we’ll be nostalgic for in the future. There’s an Elliot Smith-like quality to these lyrics in their ability to be vulnerable and moving in their simplicity.
Hitting its sonic climax around the 4-minute mark, it was difficult to predict what the final few minutes would have in store. At the risk of spoiling the experience, I can say I was pleasantly satisfied with the full circle moment it ended on. Every musical, melodic, and lyrical motif was tied together pretty with a bow; if every song is a story, “Don’t Let the Sun Set on Me” is a well-written novel.
JAD was born in Canada to Lebanese immigrant parents, making identity a large part of his work as an artist. From his debut album “Still Life” in 2017, to recording in Elliot Smith’s New Monkey Studios, to eventually taking a more DIY approach to music, JAD is remaining an outlier in every genre- refusing to be pigeonholed and making room for himself in every music space he pleases. An unapologetic creative, his distinctive work is his understanding of an enigmatic world.
Written by Jess Ward