The title track of Jenn Nucum’s latest EP, Get Better, is a silently powerful ballad that leaves the Toronto-based Filipinx singer-songwriter at her most vulnerable. The simple, yet stirring composition urges for collective healing among all– that only through having self-compassion for others, can we get better as people. This core theme is beautifully, but personally weaved throughout the EP as Jenn explores healing the societal wounds caused by broken, and inequitable systems.
Get Better (EP) musically represents the anguish and intensity of what it means to reflect inside. As a queer woman of color, it also encompasses many of Jenn’s own personal struggles with identity such as censoring herself to avoid attention, or assimilating to receive validation. This level of openness in sharing incredibly private experiences lends itself exquisitely to her latest EP, and exposes a level of rare melodic intimacy in Jenn’s musicianship.
The title ballad opens on a gentle, atmospheric tone with deep power chords that set a level of force behind simple rhythms. This is a common motif throughout the song, as Jenn arranges simple instrumentals that seem to vibrate with power in order to stir deep emotions. Her lightly rasped vocals are complemented by a simple, but moving piano melody that mirrors the heartache in the corresponding lyrics, “Does it get better?” The production for the song is intentionally stripped back, with the instrumentals relying on the power of their resonance to create a full, but haunting air of sound that adds to the emotional intensity of the song’s message. Towards the end, the layering of Jenn’s vocals shifts the tone to a more ethereal quality, and the sorrow reverberates through her voice as she pleads that she wants it to get better. The ending is simple, but the last moments of silence are intentional– a moment to self-reflect on how the song has left you feeling.
Get Better is a daring next step for the songwriter, and centers her as an emotional powerhouse. Jenn’s vulnerability is truly what makes her music so impactful; she relies solely on her musical technique instead of hiding behind overpowering instrumentals or production. In the title track, her honesty in confronting our shortcomings as people is intensely compelling, focusing on real feelings that are often avoided. The vocals, production, and instrumentals become the musical embodiment of her pleading, yearning for people to ‘get better’ for the sake of future healing.
In confronting the realities of identity in relation to a systemically unequal society in Get Better, Jenn is able to unearth deeply felt emotions only known by other queer people of color. Her style is intentionally simplistic but full of a certain weight that is impossible to ignore. This ability to lend personal experiences to her musicality is exactly what makes her, and Get Better, essential to the current alt-rock scene.
By Cassidy Copenheaver