“A slow way down to your world inside”: The Achingly Beautiful Fragility & Vulnerability of Jae Soto’s “Honesty”

Jae Soto © Sara Laufer
Jae Soto © Sara Laufer
Brooklyn’s Jae Soto sends shivers down the spine in “Honesty” as she spills her tender soul in an achingly beautiful eruption of fragility and raw vulnerability.
Stream: “Honesty” – Jae Soto




I wanna be a normal person, wanna make the time to cry…

Shivers shoot down the spine as Jae Soto’s latest single washes over the ears.

We all need some honesty, but getting it is (and will always be) far easier than giving it. The singer/songwriter lays this fact bare in “Honesty,” spilling her tender soul in an achingly beautiful eruption of fragility and vulnerability. How do we become our truest selves and share so fully with the world, when there’s so much we’d rather bury, ignore, and hide? Can we faithfully hold others to a higher standard than we hold ourselves? Will we ever be happy or content with the person we claim to be?

There’s so much to unpack, and though she may not have all the answers yet, in just two and a half minutes’ time, Jae Soto manages to ask all the right questions, tying them up with a powerful, poignant thesis: What I need is some honesty.

Don’t we all.

Honesty - Jae Soto
Honesty – Jae Soto
It isn’t over, so many moments passed
Another year older, but I broke in fast
Take the world off my shoulders
Could you make the time to try?
I wanna be a normal person
Wanna make the time to cry

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “Honesty,” the breathtaking new single taken off Jae Soto’s forthcoming debut album Leave the Light On (out June 25 via Raia Was and Arthur Moon’s Switch Hit Records). Her first song of the year following last October’s standalone single “Working the Weekend,” “Honesty” (out April 30) is a soul-stirring and shiver-inducing enchantment. An ethereal, minimalist, and brooding piano ballad whose soft, passionate chords hit like thunder to the ears and the heart.

At the core of this song is an artist painfully and beautifully exposed, reckoning at once with herself and with the world around her. For Justina-Maria Soto, the Brooklyn-based songwriter and producer behind the Jae Soto name, this is an honest (excuse the wordplay) attempt at reconciliation; at balancing the scales so as to have less tension between what we see and what we get, who we are and who we give. And even if there is no conclusive promise to do better or be more true to herself at the end of this song, at least Soto has said the quiet part out loud – recognizing the disparity between inner and outer truth, and how we all live these secret double-lives.

“‘Honesty’ is a song about vulnerability,” she tells Atwood Magazine. “It explores the struggle in becoming transparent with myself and others, while also resisting the temptation to present a more palatable version of myself.”

“As someone who absorbs a lot of information from my environment, I’ve also been heavily conditioned to appease the people around me and to disregard my intuition in order to feel safe, often at my own expense. Doing this led me to live constantly at odds and almost living two lives. Around the time I finished this track, I read a quote by Brianna Wiest that said, ‘The universe whispers until it screams, and happy people listen while the call is still quiet.’ This song was a result of my push to trust my own self-knowing and wanting others to do the same. It’s also about the loneliness that can come from choosing to live authentically.”

“Honesty” hits its high in a confessional chorus full of longing, Soto’s voice an intimate, achingly sweet beacon of smoldering sound and raw, visceral emotion. The moment is undeniably intense and urgent, yet her touch is delicate and light:

‘Cause our way out is evergreen, wait for me
All we needed is all the odds breaking down
All we wanted is always on the other side
A slow way down to your world inside
What I need is some honesty
What I need is some honesty
Jae Soto © Sara Laufer
Jae Soto © Sara Laufer

‘Honesty’ is about wanting to feel transparency from others while also struggling to give that same candid self-reflection to ourselves. It’s the act of clinging to stories that are easier to accept, rather than welcoming in the uglier ones.

The great irony of this song is that, in so few words, Jae Soto really does manage to share so much of herself with the world.

She continues to ache inside and out in the track’s second verse, poetically reflecting on her differing approaches toward herself and those around her:

Reposition my frame of mind
What a privilege, what a friend to find
Take the world off my shoulders
Could you make the time to try?
I wanna be a normal person
Wanna make the time to cry

“My favorite line is probably ‘reposition my frame of mind, what a privilege, what a friend to find’ because it touches on how we often prefer more comforting narratives and half-truths over uncomfortable realities that might bring us closer to ourselves,” Soto explains. “When I finished writing and producing the song, I realized that I had been obscuring my reality in a lot of ways. I would have a real feeling about a person, but because it was a negative one, it would turn into ‘benefit of the doubt territory’ where I completely throw out the real information I was receiving because I felt ‘bad’ for acknowledging it in the first place.”

“I came to realize just how deeply I had been socially conditioned to be a ‘good girl’ or ‘people pleaser,’ and around the time I made this track, I was just coming to terms with how deep it ran. When we live like this, we can actively prolong harmful relationships that affect the entire trajectory of our lives, and it’s kind of funny because although the subconscious goal was to ‘please,’ no one is ever really pleased in these instances.”

Jae Soto © Sara Laufer
Jae Soto © Sara Laufer

Writing this song and subsequently bringing it to life was its own form of catharsis for Soto, who sought to mirror its lyrical vulnerability with an equally moving soundscape – one that could hold and faithfully convey all the tension and depth embedded in her words.

“The production was intentionally kept minimalistic to reflect the vulnerability of acknowledging thoughts and feelings that may feel inconvenient to others. All of the sounds outside of the main vocal and piano are my voice passed through various effects pedals. I wanted the vocal textures to feel like ghostly specters, so I used time-stretching effects and tucked them in the background to create a sense of internal conversation – some disruptive, some intrusive, some loud and unavoidable.”

“When I was tracking the keys, I wanted to focus less on writing out chord progressions I was already familiar with and more on letting my ears guide me. I set a tempo and played random clusters in the key of Db, and I intuitively gravitated towards chords that slipped into a pattern of tension and release, which worked really well with the melody. I find I like this creative process the best – improvisation and then organization. It feels less like I’ve been assigned an adult task of making something digestible for someone else, and more like I’m playing. I get really good ideas when I’m improvising and just painting with a brush with no rigid, predetermined idea of what it should be. Later on, when I’m in the arranging/producing headspace, I usually take those ideas and include them more intentionally.”

“This song for me is sort of a celebration of me admitting that I’m just a person with all kinds of feelings that deserve space and acknowledgement.”

A sweet song that gently coaxes us into our own states of reverie and reflection, “Honesty” is a gorgeous bit of humanity set to music. Stream Jae Soto’s new single exclusively on Atwood Magazine, and stay tuned for more to come as the singer/songwriter unveils her forthcoming self-produced LP: “The album is a warm embrace,” Soto shares, “one that offers both cautionary tales and reassuring messages about maintaining perspective even when the world seems to be crumbling around you.”

A vivid “snapshot of the past two years,” Jae Soto’s Leave the Light On is out June 25 on Switch Hit Records!

Cause our way out is evergreen, wait for me
All we needed is all the odds breaking down
All we wanted is always on the other side
A slow way down to your world inside
What I need is some honesty
What I need is some honesty

— —

:: stream/purchase Honesty here ::
:: connect with Jae Soto here ::
Stream: “Honesty” – Jae Soto



— — — —

Honesty - Jae Soto

Connect to Jae Soto on
Facebook, TikTok, Instagram
Discover new music on Atwood Magazine
? © Sara Laufer

:: Stream Jae Soto ::



More from Mitch Mosk
Editor’s Picks 59: BEL & girlhouse, Mt. Joy, Ken Yates, McCall, Typhoon, & Nora Mae
An exciting selection of new music curated by Mitch Mosk, this week's...
Read More