Reviewed by: Max Miller
There are two points that cannot be ignored when it comes to analyzing singer-songwriter Jessie Jones’ self-titled debut solo album. The first: Jones was the frontwoman of Feeding People, a band whose albums on Burger and Innovative Leisure reflected the fairly typical garage/surf/psych fare in which both labels specialize. The second: Jones was allegedly raised an evangelical Christian before she broke ties to nurture her love for the Beatles and popular music. As such, your average listener is going to want to determine whether Jessie Jones a) improves upon the somewhat forgettable model Jones’ previous group stuck to, and b) reflects her backstory in a way that doesn’t feel contrived. Jones succeeds on both fronts.
Opener “Sugar Coated” revolves around a climactic chorus of “You can kiss the ground that I walk on/ Walk on!/ WALK ON!/ WALK ON!!” etc., with Jones’ climbing melody gaining energy and ecstasy like someone shouting hosannas. In fact, the greatest lesson on pop music Jones has taken to heart is to worship the chorus. Cuts like “Make It Spin” and “Quicksilver Screen” host choruses that bloom effortlessly and unexpectedly, raising the songs to another plateau. Due credit should also be given to her rhythm section, who set up bouncy, playful song structures over which Jones can work her wonders.
Sometimes, however, it feels as if Jones exchanged Feeding People’s garage rock cliches for the tropes of pastoral psychedelia. The strings, for example, on “Butterfly Knives” introduce a chorus that brilliantly contrasts with the hypnotic verses, but also seem to quote, a little too obviously, the era of Sgt. Pepper. Ditto the sitar drone of “Lady La De Da.” However, compared to the predictable retro-futurism of psych acts like Tame Impala, Jones shows an overall better grasp of variety and restraint.