It has been three years since Jessica Domingo released an album, so I’m more than thrilled to have access to the music that Butterfly Paradise provides. The best way to describe Domingo’s songs is ‘ASMR, but make it musical;’ her voice, lyrics, and beats are all extremely soothing; I have been falling asleep to it for the past couple weeks.
The introduction, “Butterfly Paradise,” is short, sweet, and romantic. Domingo layers her voice over birds chirping, a car engine trying to start up, and her own, soft adlibs. The sounds all together sound very dreamy, which she references in the lyrics: “. . . But I’m inside a dream.” She also includes a call to a song released on her last album, Floral Mind, which has been my favorite Jessica Domingo song for a long time: “Honey Skies.” The combination of dreamy sounds and pining lyrics settle us in for the romantic journey Butterfly Paradise is about to take us on.
“Gravitate” continues seamlessly where the last few beats of “Butterfly Paradise” left off. Just as soft lyrically and musically, “Gravitate” is about the unexplained, but deeply emotional connection between two lovers-to-be. It features the anticipation of wanting to get to know said attractive person; the lyrics question, “Who’s going to make a move?” beneath the singer’s more prominent description of their infatuation: “I can’t explain the way I’m feeling / (Don’t want to get close when you’re near) / Your mind is something I’m not reading yet / Tell me why I always gravitate to you.”
“Island” is a bit of a different song for Domingo; rather than blend smoothly together, the beats are abrupt and distinct. It mimics the tempo of someone’s heartbeat when they’re with someone they adore, reflective of the song’s lyrics: “Something about your presence that’s enticing / Something about your essence I’m admiring / When I’m with you I feel like we’re just vibing on an island.” Like “Gravitate,” “Island” is about pining after a love interest, as the singer “never took the chance to make the first move,” but there is hope that they will: “Don’t want to let it go / I’ve got to let you know first.”
The best way to describe the sound of “Lotus” is groovy. It has an up-and-down tempo that blends right in with its lyrical description of opening up to someone and blending right in with their spirit. The singer is confident and in love: “Leading you where I do / The river will flow / Won’t you follow / So you can honor our connection? / A sacred affection / Bless you with my goddess energy.” This song has a wonderfully beautiful bridge between the lyrics and the slight change in tempo to make room for Domingo’s voice to really shine.
Thus far, Butterfly Paradise has been a very spiritual and mystical album, and “Keep on Loving You” is, by far, the most in-tune with the singer’s spirit. The lyrics explicitly mention elements of this: “Now I believe in kundalini* . . . I’m so grateful to / Experience you in this lifetime / Now we’re on cloud nine . . . You’re my soulmate.” (*Kundalini, a belief in Hinduism, is a divine, feminine energy that lives in the human body at the base of the spine.) This song also has more detailed rhythms than most of Domingo’s discography, which allows it to stand out.
Up next is a small interlude, “Baby I’ve Been.” This is a semi-acoustic, short song about missing someone. It is a tiny dip between the upbeat “Keep on Loving You” and the self-reflection in the next song, “Letter to Self.” This is the only Jessica Domingo song so far that is not centered on romance, and instead on Domingo’s self-acceptance and confidence in her craft. As an artist, Domingo is still waiting for her spotlight; she’s not well-known yet, but she is resilient, and she has “trust in [her] creation,” so she’s not keen on giving up.
Closing in on the album’s finale, “After Midnight” really highlights Domingo’s range, as she plays with different pitches and inflections in her voice. That, coupled with the smooth lyrics (my favorite being “I got the record on repeat / Close my eyes and I feel just fine / I belong to the night”), pushes “After Midnight” into my list of top five Jessica Domingo songs.
“Things Unsaid” is another semi-short song, running at just over two minutes, but it is very impactful. The lyrics are about a relationship that has ended, but still has the singer worried about the other person. The song is full of regret: “This is closure that you never had . . . And I am sorry that I left things unsaid / Cause I’d rather love you from afar instead.” The love expressed in this song is deep and painful; it is certainly a drop in mood after the carefree love expressed in “After Midnight.”
It does, however, segue perfectly into the last lyrical song on the album, “Art of Letting Go.” This song is about a should-be or wants-to-be relationship, but the singer decides, ultimately, it would be better for them and the other person to remain friends. Neither of them are ready for a relationship, so it is better for both of them to establish boundaries before they truly fall in love.
The last song on the album is an acoustic version of “Island.” Domingo’s voice is more raw and even softer than the original version, which contributes to the reason I have played this version just a little more than the original.
In the end, though, I really don’t have a favorite song from Butterfly Paradise. It might be “After Midnight,” but I truly love each and every song on this album. I’m not usually a fan of softer music like this, especially when it’s mostly about romance, but Jessica Domingo is a particularly special artist for me. She has one of the most beautiful voices I’ve heard in a while, and one of the sweetest online personalities I’ve come across. If you’re new to Jessica Domingo, Butterfly Paradise is a great place to start! It is available to listen to on all music platforms.
Featured Image: Courtesy of Jessica Domingo