Jean Castel, a French artist who lives in Los Angeles, released his debut EP called “Wish You Well” on the 26th of January. Jean is not a stranger to the music business and to music in general. His musical journey started when he was five and played the violin, then he switched to the guitar and singing. Jean also went to the national conservatory in Bordeaux and attended afterward the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Therefore, he definitely has a good foundation for his musical career. He worked with other artists like Futuristic and Lewis Capaldi, he co-produced on Capaldi’s single “Tough”. Now he is presenting his self-produced and -written EP “Wish You Well”, which counts 5 tracks.
I discovered him last summer with his single What Happened to Us and I loved streaming this catchy song, it was one of my summer jams. The song is just perfect with his tender vocals and the funky beat. In the lyrics, he asks his girlfriend why she is so cold towards him and wants her to admit that she has cheated on him. I’ll link some of his music videos at the end. But for now, let’s focus on the new tracks and let me dive into the lyrical meanings.
He already released 3 songs of his EP as a pre-taste during the last three months of 2018, starting with the title track Wish You Well in last October. I would describe it as a lullaby-like breakup song, with well-chosen rhymes. Jean is saying goodbye to his girlfriend but he would also don’t mind if she wants to pursue their relationship and if not, he wishes her well and shows gratitude with this action. In the chorus, he tells her how he feels: “I feel like a wasted desire. I’m feeling alone in this fire. Take the venom out my veins and make the darkness a little more bright. Something words can’t explain when the feeling’s right”. I admire the calming melody and the production, but you can still feel the disappointment and the sadness in his vocals.
The second single Through the Light was released in November. This song turns the calm vibes of the first single into a dark mysterious atmosphere. I love the change from the slow melody during the chorus to his angry talks in the verses. And every time he says “uhhh” I get one step closer to heaven. In the first verse, it seems like his girlfriend broke up with him through a message. Instead of being sad he admits that he feels much more relieved and free now. During the second verse, she now wants his money and Jean responds with the following words: “talk to my lawyer, I’m gone, I’ll be making music, sing along”. With the money and lawyer references, it also could be a divorce. In the chorus, he just wants to take his time to be on his own. “It’s me, myself and I tonight. So many things to figure out. My thoughts so sharp, cut through the light. It feels so clear now in my mind”. I love these metaphoric lyrics.
Black Maria was the last foretaste of the EP, released in December. It’s a short one-and-a-half-minute long track, which is also the outro track on the EP. The meaning of the term “Black Maria” is a van by the police to transport prisoners. Therefore, he compares himself to a prisoner, who is captivated by his girlfriend’s love, that’s an amazing metaphor. This track consists of two verses, he compares his girlfriend to Aphrodite in the first one and admits how she made him fall in love with herself and how he feels like a prisoner in her black Maria. In the second one, she is described as good and bad. Good because she makes him learn about himself and tells him things he always wanted to hear. She is also bad because she makes him a sinner now. This outro track represents the first two singles very well since it maintains their dark calm mysterious atmosphere in its production.
Additionally, two new songs were released with the EP. Scared Of the Words I Love You is one of them. Jean is reminiscing about his ex-girlfriend that she was scared of the words I love you, so they had to break up. Therefore, he never really could tell her how much he loves her, he does it finally with this song. Even his mother thought she would be the right one for him. She loved spending nights with him, but she didn’t want something serious. He is still suffering from this experience, you can tell this by the line: “Please don’t call me, I still ache down to the core”. This track is less dark than the other songs, it’s rather sad and more story-telling. The chorus feels like a hymn with his impressive vocals and the great production.
In Saying a Lot Jean loses his calmness and shows his anger in his vocals, he is almost screaming during the chorus, don’t get scared. I guess he is processing everything mentally, everything she said to him and all his thoughts in this song. He expresses his condition very well in the lines “I got all of the reasons to leave you behind, yet I’m still trying. I just can’t believe all the damage you’ve left on my mind”. Jean said during his Instagram live streaming that this track is the most personal one on the EP. Writing Saying a Lot was definitely a therapy for him. You will love this track the more you listen to it.
He wrote and produced the entire EP on his own but there is one more name I have to mention, who mixed and mastered every track. He worked with the famous mixing engineer Michael Freeman, who also mixed albums by artists like Ed Sheeran, Harry Styles, Niall Horan, 5SOS and Years & Years.
Overall, I think it’s a conceptual EP representing very well the process of going through a breakup, which followed after a passionate romantic relationship. I see a lyrical and sonically connection between these 5 songs, they form one vivid creative artwork. The lyrics are well thought out and meaningful. I really want to see him live performing these songs. I could even travel from Switzerland to France to make this happen. But for now, let’s enjoy the EP, stream and buy it where ever you can and follow Jean Castel on his social media to be updated. He will soon release merch and physical copies of the EP. Let me know about your favorite tracks in the comment section.
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