Jessie Jones - Jessie Jones

by Steve Ricciutti Rating:8 Release Date:2015-07-25

Jessie Jones’ debut album, after years fronting Feeding People and after a sojourning period, is a broad mix of genres. If the categorical hashtag is psych-pop, I’m more aligned with the latter than the former, but labels are usually simplistic things with little meaning, and this is a CD that’s best defined individually.

The album kicks off with 'Sugar Coated', a song that belongs on heavy-rotation, summertime pop radio right now and it’s the type of track that can take an artist to the next level. It’s definitely the hook to get you to explore the rest of this diverse record. 'Sugar Coated' contains catchy refrains, empowering lyrics, and just enough experimentation to raise it above generic pop.

A second single, 'Lady La De Da', starts with a jazzy lament reminiscent of late-80s Siouxsie Sioux then pauses momentarily as if to take a collective deep breath before roaring into a surf-guitar finale with Ms Jones repeatedly wailing the chorus. These are two quite different songs, linked only by Jones’ voice, and therein lies the appeal of this record.

Some favorites are 'Nightingale' and 'Twelve Hour Man'. The former is lovely, floating above strings with Jones’ plaintive, aching voice reminding me of a cross between Maria McKee and Billie Holiday. The latter is a jangly pop beauty with horns and psychedelic organ flavors creating another very radio-friendly song.

'Prisoner’s Cinema' is a bit too self-indulgent and trippy for me, and the closer 'Mental Illness' has the feel of a demo, an understated acoustic guitar providing the only accompaniment before fading out in a brief 90 seconds. These two are the only missteps on this album, and that yields a pretty solid batting average.

Jessie Jones writes thoughtful, introspective songs with a heady combination of strength, vulnerability, joy, and spirituality. The songs are like a buffet and, like every buffet, there are some treats you’re likely to go to for seconds and others you may not find to your liking. On the whole, however, this is a banquet I truly savored. 

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