Jessie Jones

Jessie Jones

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Let's just get it out of the way -- Jessie Jones is a hippie. She fit like a charm with the moody updated psychedelia of the band Feeding People, where as lead vocalist she seemed like a breezier version of Janis Joplin or Grace Slick when in full flight. And after that band broke up, Jones gave up her possessions and went thumb tripping through rural California before deciding to take up singing again after being persuaded by a busload of kids (or at least that's her story), which sure sounds like a crunchy granola response to a life crisis. And danged if Jones doesn't continue to sound deeply hippie-fied on her debut solo album, in which she sings just the way Janice from Dr. Teeth & the Electric Mayhem looks. All that said, if Jessie Jones is a hippie, she's one with pleasingly eclectic tastes and the ambitious musical vision to create a great pop album. Jones' vocal style usually leans to the sunny side on this album, but her attack is far from simplistic, and if her lyrics don't always scan (often musing about a variety of personal and spiritual concerns, some seeming more lucid than others), she knows just how to shift gears to fit the mood and message of a song, and she can tackle the Middle Eastern drone of "Lady La De Da," the Kate Bush Gone Reggae vibe of "Prisoner's Cinema," the folkie drift of "Nightingale," the pure and sparkling pop of "Sugar Coated," or the bluesy four-a.m. groove of "Butterfly Knives" with grace, élan, and an impressive degree of passion. (And her harmonies with herself on "Quicksilver Screen" are a delight.) Though the final track, a lo-fi acoustic number where Jones murmurs "My mental illness/There's nothing wrong with it," is just a touch disquieting, it certainly fits the playful bravery of this album, where Jones shows she can bare her psychedelic soul with a smile and a great melody. Jessie Jones is clearly not for everybody, but if you love classic pop and rock created by a gifted eccentric with a vision (and the talent to make it real), this debut is well worth your time and attention.

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