Jessica Risker – I See You Among The Stars
Western Vinyl – 4 May 2018
Describing the album as a “psych-space-folk” sound, Jessica Risker is a breathy-voiced Chicago singer-songwriter, visual artist and mental health therapist who also performs under the name of Deadbeat. This, though, is rooted firmly in late 60s pastoral acid-folk, Nick Drake and Sibylle Baier are acknowledged influences, though the likes of Vashti Bunyan and Bridget St. John are clearly in the DNA too.
The title track is an airy, floaty sun-kissed number with shimmering synthesised vibes. Proceed through the flower-strewn lysergic pathways that follow, starting with the simple acoustic picking and star child vocals of the ‘you were the best I ever had’ Cut My Hair, the song taking an unexpected turn towards the end with some deep bass synth notes and echoey vocal. It reminds of the heady summer of love days of The Cowsills and Sunshine Company. Or maybe Twinkle.
Risker’s experimental side bubbles up on the musical shapes thrown on the likes of the hazing Anyway When I Look In Your Eyes with its mention of The Beatles, the bass pulsing and billowing synth swirls that texture the watery acoustic guitar-led Reassign Me or the stop-start musical box moments in A Cooling Sun, but, for the most, she keeps the sound soothing and calm, letting it wash across you in gentle acoustic waves.
Zero Summer Mind is gossamer, echoingly sung fey folk tinged with slightly ominous background synths while Shallow Seas, fingers scraping on the guitar strings, conjures the feel of walking on damp grass after rainfall. The album ends as she whispers the count into the circling guitar picking of the hushed, almost lullabying mental fragility of Help Me Help Me as she sings of finding her way, falling leaves, the sun setting and “things I could not share”.
An album best heard in those tranquil twilight or early dawn moments when the consciousness floats free and the air takes on a beguiling luminescence, it seeps over you like warm water opening your pores.
Available via Bandcamp: https://jessicarisker.bandcamp.com/album/i-see-you-among-the-stars
Photo Credit: Rachel Winslow