Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Essie Jain - We Made This Ourselves

Essie Jain is an Englishwoman in New York, and her debut album is most obviously inflicted with that ageless stigma – the ‘earnest’ pigeonhole. But does that equal ‘a second rate Joni’? The only real answer is one reasonably akin to sometimes yes, sometimes no. ‘We Made This Ourselves’ is melismatic, minimally scattered orchestrals, a bit of well-executed vibrato here and there and an occasional Baltic flair, seen clearest on ‘Talking’. And talking of the confines of labelling a new artist, the following words also come to mind: delicate, sombre, subtle, understated - but Joan As Police Woman’s ‘Real Life’ seems to work it a whole lot better in just under five minutes than this album can aspire to. There’s nothing wrong with Jain’s folk, it’s just not life-changing or even that affecting, despite the undeniable honesty – most notable on paean to the battle between alcohol and a partner, ‘Loaded’. The butterfly infused artwork says it all for mediocrity. The simple waltz metre of ‘Disgrace’ is impeccable and the vocals consistently wistful – but it’s just not engaging. And minimalism can also go one of two ways: beautifully built up intricacies, or something like a drone. Suffice to say, this is the latter, less varied, more self-resonant interpretation. Introversion aside, there’s no Joanna Newsom duck-like vocal quirk, nor can there be any valid claim that a Vashti Bunyan purity’s enough – because the listener wants more now, or at least this one does. Blame it on Cat Power. NS

No comments: