Scrawled in the margins of a William Carlos Williams poetry book dusted off in his late grandfather’s study, S. Holden Jaffe found a note that had once been left for his grandmother: “I miss you already, and I haven’t left yet.” A simple gesture preserved for decades illuminated a reality that Jaffe now faced at present: a perpetual state of similar Departures.
The years during which Jaffe began writing, recording and performing as Del Water Gap were ones fueled by the kind of hedonism that you can get away with when you’re young and hungry in New York City. But at some point between exiting the pandemic and releasing his long-awaited debut album via Mom + Pop in 2021, that lifestyle had swiftly (and necessarily) vanished. Now midway through a global tour behind that record, he had found stability in the constant transience through his relationship and his sobriety. Still, the rigor of spending every night in a different hotel room was taking its expected toll, and by the time he was expected to put pen to paper for the next Del Water Gap project, Jaffe felt spiritually depleted.
Any trace of cynicism began to dissipate instantly upon his first session with producer Sammy Witte (Harry Styles, SZA) who encouraged Jaffe to abandon the self-conscious subtext of his previous work and make the record he’s always wanted to make but never allowed himself to. That meant hoisting his sonic palette up into panoramic pop heights, first on “Losing You” and later on lead single “All We Ever Do Is Talk,” a joyride hinging on massive existential doubt: “will we ever get that feeling again?” Can the cardinal jolt of young love last beyond its initial spark? Can one still achieve highs without the drugs? Are the best times really over, or are they still within reach?
I Miss You Already + I Haven’t Left Yet doesn’t wait for the answers, generating its own propulsive thrills through skyward hooks and resplendent imagery further punctuated by additional production from Mike Malchicoff (King Princess, Kanye West) and Ethan Gruska (Phoebe Bridgers, Manchester Orchestra), instrumental contributions from Clairo, Zach Dawes, Mason Stoops and Rob Humphreys, and a duet with Arlo Parks, the glowing “Quilt of Steam.” As its striking cover suggests, I Miss You Already + I Haven’t Left Yet presents a portrait of a man who is weathered but tenacious, standing upright and adamant on forging his way through an atmosphere of ennui with all his might.