For a minute there, it looked like Jay Som was going for it. Compared to the grand, grave (and, admittedly, brilliant) self-seriousness of a Mitski (as regrettable as it is to arbitrarily compare the esteemed female Asian singers of the moment, it seems all some fans online are determined to do), Melina Mae Duterte seemed more interested in using Jay Som to offer a personal, lower stakes brand of chilled out indie rock on her not-debut-debut Turn Into. Then came her proper debut, Everybody Works; arguably a concept album, the record took on the emptiness inherent in the work force lifestyle our collective limited wisdom continues to miserably embrace. In short, it was both excellent and a lot. Folk wondered: was this the new course, or would it be an outlier?

Well, on Anak Ko, Jay Som seems more than content to return to her old tricks. Largely avoiding any grand intent or message, the nine-track album is composed of the intimate statements she excels in, with nothing quite so hard hitting as a 'For Light' (though closer 'Get Well' does show shades of deep melancholy), but plenty of charming jams to lull you back into her little world.

In fact, musically speaking, Jay Som has never sounded warmer. Still self-producing, Duterte shows a true ear for fun here, with the bulk of tracks here bursting with a warmth and confidence beyond anything she's done before. The bold guitar of opener 'If You Want It' immediately pulls the listener in, while the likes of 'Tenderness' and 'Devotion' tout a pop-savvy sensibility in their casually addictive grooves.

There's a reason for the briskness: the album was recorded in but a week. Seeking to detach from hype, expectations, and attention, Jay Som retreated to Joshua Tree, banging out the album, simply letting it occur naturally. Her process allowed for a frank, immediate honesty, right down to its title, which means “my child” in native Philippino dialact. This isn't to say it was a careless affair: for the first time, she invited in outside collaborators, including Vagabon and Chastity Belt's Annie Truscott, among others, to record vocals and various instrumentation.

Still, with Duterte having revealed just how decisive and crippling a songwriter she can be last go round, a fan of Everybody Works might somewhat miss the gravity and emotional intensity of that record, with words here often seeming to take a back seat to the general vibe. Surely this was the intent, and one can't fault an artist for accomplishing the statement they set out to make, even if it leaves Anak Ko feeling like a tad small compared to its older sibling. That doesn't mean a less ambitious child is any less lovable. Jay Som is truly at home on Anak Ko, and it shows. It may not pack a wallop, but it's always welcoming, and, sometimes, that's just what we need.