Jess McAllister - painted faces
Some things are worth the wait. It apparently took Jess McAllister a long time to complete her four-song EP Painted Faces. After you lay your ears upon the stellar production, the exceptional songwriting and attention to detail there’s little doubt that a lot of thought and devotion was put into these songs. Each song on Painted Faces has an intricate arrangement made up of orchestral strings, piano and more.
The most enduring quality of these songs is the voice of Jess McAllister. During the duration of the EP the arrangements feel uniquely her own. She has an original, strong, commanding voice but not unlike some of the exceptional contemporary female artists like Joanna Newsome, Feist, PJ Harvey and Fionna Apple she has idiosyncratic qualities that draw you closer to the meaning and emotion behind the words.
The album starts with “Take A Walk,” which may be the most memorable song on the EP. I haven't heard such an inventive symbiotic relationship between the strings and piano since I heard “Ys” by Joanna Newsome. It’s never stale or rests on its laurels but evolves and dissipates in a natural way. McAllister’s vocals are dynamic and passionate throughout. She occasionally harmonies to emphasize certain lines and takes great care in creating a song that hits you in the heart right out of the gate.
The title track “Painted Tracks” creatively employs percussion and background vocals while “Shadows In The Night” is an upbeat, jovial song that sounds a bit like a waltz. The EP ends with the exceptional “Never Mind Buying Time.” It opens with a cascading piano melody, swelling strings and an emotionally resonant vocal melody. The most beautiful (as well as honest) part of the song is simply her voice and strings and she sings “’Cause I am good, and I am strong / And I don't have to be alone / No-one ever has to be alone / And I will walk, upon this earth / Head held high, feet in the dirt / And I will come to be just what I'm worth.”
Jess McAllister has something that a lot of musicians can only wish for – raw talent. It emanates from the beginning to end on this EP and I hope to hear more of it in the future.
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