Click Here to listen to Jessie Baylin's interview on NPR's All Things Considered
When you hear Jessie Baylin sing for the first time, it takes a matter of moments to realize that she’s intimately familiar with pop’s history – but not at all interested in repeating it. Her songs—and her plangent voice—carry a classic pop tone that evoke memories of the Brill Building and Laurel Canyon in the ‘70s while retaining a decidedly modern, empowered worldview.
“I drew a lot from people like Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick, the Brill Building writers,” says the New Jersey-born, Nashville-based singer-songwriter. “But I didn’t want to make a retro, throwback kind of album. Nostalgia is fine, I have a definite fondness for that, but I didn’t want people to listen and think I was trying to recapture something from the past.”That’s exactly the vibe one gets when immersed in Baylin’s third album Little Spark, a recording that emerged after negotiating her way out of a major label deal that was threatening to mar the clarity of her singular artistic vision. Rather than go with the flow, she went with her gut.
Baylin’s ability to listen is palpable, in her mellifluous phrasing, the gentle twang that’s crept into her voice in recent years. But even more tangible is her ability to feel—and make her listeners feel. Listen to a song like “Joy Is Suspicious,” a starkly vulnerable self-assessment about learning to love against some pretty strong odds, and try to remain unmoved.