Friday, February 02, 2007

Timout New York Reviews Essie Jain's New Ablum.

Essie Jain
We Made This Ourselves (Ba Da Bing)

For all the good the freak-folk contingent has done-from resuscitating
the careers of forgotten pioneers to reclaiming the Birkenstock from
Phish fans-it's a shame that Devendra Banhart and his buddies have
taught indie kids to greet simplicity with suspicion. These days,
people assume that a singer accompanying herself on acoustic guitar
must've given the African-percussion team the night off.

On her enchanting debut, NYC-based English transplant Essie Jain makes
a compelling argument for the merits of minimalism. Most of the tunes
on We Made This Ourselves are built around nothing more than guitar or
piano; occasionally, drummer Jim White of Dirty Three supplies a
whisper of groove, while "Haze" sports a lovely splash of muted Bryter
Layter brass. Even the song titles, such as "Glory," "Sailor" and
"Talking," eschew decoration.

Yet the music hardly feels unfinished, thanks to Jain's voice, a
richly nuanced instrument that packs far more emotion than your
average freak-folk warble. Jain's best trick is establishing a precise
melodic line, then bending it with unexpected blue notes; in those
instances, the story the music tells is of a woman straining against
decorum to express herself honestly. That might be a smaller narrative
than Banhart's flower-child revolt, but in Jain's hands it's no less
gripping. - Mikael Wood

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