Career trajectories are rarely linear or make logical sense. Life is unpredictable so all you can do is put in good work and keep at it. Joh Chase is a testament to this. Over the past two decades, the Seattle-raised, Los Angeles-based artist has persistently honed their songwriting and toured, opening for acts like Noah Gunderson and David Bazan. This dedication comes out entirely in their music, which feels so timeless, confident, and fully realized it can only come from someone who’s devoted their whole life to their craft. Their new songs feel like a turning point for them: the culmination of a lifetime of writing, losing, loving, and doing it all yourself. These singles, which toe the line between confessional folk and breezy but ethereal pop, are a dynamic introduction to an essential artist.
Chase’s musical journey has been a winding but steady evolution. While they were raised Evangelical and originally wrote songs that grappled with leaving the church, Chase found revelations in classic and introspective songwriting. “My brain is completely filled with the music I was raised on: Elton John, The Cranberries, Bonnie Raitt, and the Mamas and the Papas,” they say. “I will always think of my music through that template while trying to find a place for myself in the world and pushing the boundaries of that.” With that foundation, Chase’s songs are dynamic and alive. This year, the singles Chase is releasing gleefully bounce from sunny and sophisticated pop to bedroom-recorded folk, blues, and intimate indie rock. No two tracks sound alike but they’re all connected by a patient and enduring vision.
Just take “Lucky Penny,” which came out in February. It’s an impeccably summary tune that captures the euphoria of feeling like everything’s going your way. On the chorus, they sing, “And I’ll flip it, I’ll flip it, I’ll flip it, I’ll flip it again. And it always lands, always lands, always lands up on its head.” It’s an earworm that makes a more than welcome impression but it’s also a metaphor for the excitement of a new relationship. Elsewhere, Chase’s talent as an arranger comes out clearly on the mesmerizing “Another Lover,” which they recorded and mixed themself. Over layered vocal harmonies, minimalist percussion, and an understated guitar, Chase finds transcendence in simplicity. “Fairy Tale of my life / Find that one and make her a wife / But nothing sticks like they said it would,” sings Chase.
Chase thrives on perceptive and emotionally resonant insight: they’re able to pinpoint a feeling with staggering clarity. The simmering “Sometimes,” which evokes Fiona Apple’s intensity, finds them singing, “Take a big stride in the path I’ve been given / But I’m trying to find if this is what I’m living for.” But “Risking It With You” is the best example of this. There they sing, “There’s nothing I can control that makes the hard parts easy. But something I know for sure: I’m devoted to risking it with you.” The song came about from Chase witnessing their friends’ relationships fall apart in dramatic and life-altering ways. “You witness that and think, ‘Who knows what's going to happen in my own relationships,” they say. “I'll just risk the fact that that could happen anytime. Something weird could happen but that's just life.” To Chase, love is something worth the risk.
Joh Chase will release a new album via Kill Rock Stars in 2024.
Bio by Josh Terry