[FOLK] Portland folk-pop singer-songwriter Nick Jaina's latest record asks you to take a walk with him in search of meaning—whether in regard to relationships, God or the everyday choices we all make. Jaina explores themes of truth, love and being comfortable in your own skin, and he makes you feel good about coming along for the journey.

Jaina rhapsodizes about everything from struggling with notions of faith ("These Fair Hands") to fruitless pursuits ("Expense Reports"), focusing on what is, rather than pointing to what could or should be. That is not to say his songs are devoid of new revelations. "All the Best Fakers" marvels at how pockets of mankind still seek authenticity, while "True Hearts Are as International as War" expresses similar surprise at our ability to be loyal to something other than ourselves.

Sonically, Jaina mixes things up with a slightly heavier focus on rock sensibilities. "Don't Come to Me" is right in his folk-pop wheelhouse, but on "Man Without a Head," the already moody guitars turn gritty partway through, and the driving electric guitar on "I'll Do the Time" is both kooky and ominous.

Jaina's insights about searching for purpose are accurate, and the fact that the lyrics are half-spoken makes them more direct. Primary Perception is full of well-rounded, thought-provoking material, communicated with enough musical variety to keep you listening.


SEE IT: Nick Jaina plays Doug Fir Lounge, with Paper Bird and Pony Village, on Wednesday, April 3. 9 pm. $8 advance, $10 day of show. 21+.