Jess McAllister is a Devon-based singer songwriter who I had the great pleasure of meeting along with her lovely family at Halsway Manor’s Hothouse Festival in April this year. Whilst the term singer/songwriter is a ridiculous term by definition which really does it no favours I’m loathe to pigeon-hole Jess into any musical category. Whilst her music certainly as an acoustic folk roots flavour she’s clearly an artist who likes spontaneity, as I witnessed in her live performance. She also enjoys the space to experiment and create…just watch her performing a cover of Alt-J’s Tessellate:
Whilst many would run a mile at being offered a giant canvas to create a vision upon Jess seems to thrive in such situations. Back in October she released her debut EP Painted Faces with the backing of a full band. I only got to hear it after seeing her perform solo and whilst that was a great experience in itself it didn’t prepare me for what to expect. The results are both inspiring, rewarding and breath-taking. She has a brilliant way of conveying emotion and makes great use of clever arrangements to convey that strength. She also writes brilliant songs.
The opening piano led Take A Walk brings her vocals right to the fore, leaping from fragility to soaring strength that will send all your hairs heavenwards.
She can up the tempo when required as she proves so ably on Painted Faces, a reflection on a commercially led society where it’s the norm to hide your age with ‘Just a lick lick lick of paint’.
Shadows in the Night plays over piano with subtle backing as a lullaby of worldly advice unfolds. The final track ‘Never Mind Buying Time‘ has a line that stayed with me:
…And I will walk, upon this earth
Head held high, feet in the dirt
And I will come to be just what I’m worth
After hearing this EP and seeing Jess perform live there is no doubt in my mind she lives by those words. She puts every ounce of energy, soul and the love of those around her into her music.
She’s definitely a name to watch out for. Get out and see her and buy that EP
25 – Rockfest 2014, The Rock Inn, Yelverton, Devon
03 – Sidmouth Fringe Sessions, Sidmouth,
08 – BoomTown Fair 2014, Winchester,
14 – Mein Haus Am See, Berlin, Germany
15 – An Einem Sonntag in August, Berlin, Germany
15 – Kunst, Kulter Kirchlinteln, Hannover, Germany
17 – Kultkrug Sillenstede, Schortens, Germany
22 – Watchet Festival, Taunton,
29 – Kingsdown Wine Vaults, Bristol,
29 – Bicton Fest 2014, Bicton College, Devon,
29 – Worcester 2014, Worcester,
23 – Canteen, Bristol,
04 – The Globe, Exeter,
12 – Exeter Phoenix, Exeter,
14 – The Troubadour, London,
06 – Casa Maroc, Exeter,