By Adeem Bingham, Staff Writer
Jessye DeSilva is a songwriter who is marinated in a stew of poetry and emotion. I first heard them sing last year and was immediately drawn to the vulnerability in their voice and the poignancy of their songs. With all the power and profundity of a Jackson Browne or Tracy Chapman record and all of the softness too, Jessye’s new EP will hammer your emotions with the gentle touches of these ivory keys.
The opening track is full of literary, innocent snapshots of youth. Piano-driven and guided by the conversational way that Jessye sings their poetic lyrics, “Queen Of The Backyard,” patiently grows into a triumphant anthem. “Keep singing to the witch in the piano strings” illustrates such a crisp and hopeful image of a child tethered to eternity by their creative energy.
Each song is well-produced and fully imagined. “Worry” is an upbeat folk song that explores the tumultuous emotional waters of living with anxiety. It has a simple drum beat and a bouncy little guitar riff, but it’s the crisp clarity of the lyrics and smoothness of Jessye’s voice that make it sound like it could be plucked off of a Dawes record.
There’s a big tonal shift, though, leading into Something Wicked which opens with a kick, clap, and distorted guitar. The heavily affected vocals guide the song into this swarm of ghostly synths with the lyric, “Something wicked this way comes.” Smattered with allusions to Ray Bradbury, it’s a bluesy song full of allegory which points towards the cerebral nature of Jessye’s writing.
“36 and I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up / all these fears got me staring down ghosts in a coffee cup.” “Drifter” is probably the one that resonates most heavily with me. All of the self-doubt, the cunning awareness of how richly impermanent everything is, and reckless spinning in the endless expanse. It’s the diary of an artist centered in the journey, tethered to eternity by their creative energy.
The album closes with an airy and ethereal ballad. It is confessional and the thin timbre of Jessye’s voice waltzes with the warmth of the piano in this very delicate dance. Alone with their piano, as vulnerable as the themes that intersect throughout the EP, “crying out to a God who stays silent.” “Hover” is a portrait of a poet at a piano bench, finding their voice in the deep darkness of being alive.
“Hover” is available now on Bandcamp.