Sarah Jaffe’s Don’t Disconnect marks a confident trajectory toward experimental pop in the vein of St. Vincent and My Brightest Diamond. Just below that slickly produced glimmer, many disparate genres — among them R&B, folk and electro-pop — are layered to satisfying effect. Midlake drummer McKenzie Smith, who produced the album, balances fuzzed-out guitar, driving bass hooks and droning synths expertly built to highlight Jaffe’s resonating, assured and rounded mezzo for an album suited for both the intimacy of the living room and a night out on the dance floor.
In “Some People Will Tell You,” a mid-tempo anthem of scratchy bass beats, shimmering guitar and hypnotic, syncopated piano and drum lines, Jaffe sings, “Some people ask for honesty/ most people don’t like the truth.” What could turn plodding or repetitive (nearly every line begins with either “some people” or “most people”) becomes forceful and driving. It pays tribute to her heart-on-her-sleeve singer-songwriter beginnings while embracing deftly layered electronic beats and funk-laden rhythms that highlight Jaffe’s new terrain.
The title track, which lands exactly at the center of the album, hits straight to the heart when Jaffe begs, “Do you still feel me? Don’t disconnect, don’t disconnect yet.” She’s framed only by slow and low-down bass and synths to highlight her trajectory into 21st-century electronic soul. On Don’t Disconnect, Jaffe’s experimentation sounds newly sleek yet still deeply heartfelt, and her push into new territories proves rewarding.