ESSIE JAIN: We Made This Ourselves (The Leaf Label)


Posted on Apr 24th 2008 12:38 am

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Essie Jain: We Made This Ourselves

We Made This Ourselves
The Leaf Label 2008
10 Tracks. 41mins03secs

While Essie Jain was born and raised in London, it is from New York, where she moved in 2001, that she operates. Music has been a part of her life from a very early age, learning classical piano, cello and, later, opera, but rejected it all at the end of her adolescence. It is only some years later, as she was going through a difficult time in her life, that she turned to music once again as a mean to express her emotions. After moving to New York, she spent some time collaborating with various musicians before meeting guitarist Patrick Glynn with whom she began working on her debut album. The result, We Made This Ourselves, was originally released on Brooklyn-based Ba Da Ding over a year ago, and is now given a new lease of life thanks to Leaf, just as her second album is due out in the US.

Although the folk brushes have brought comparisons to anything from Vashti Bunyan to Nick Drake, there is, throughout We Made This Ourselves, a strong reminiscence of This Mortal Coil’s third album, Blood, especially in the way melodies erupt in vocal harmonies. Songs such as Haze, Sailor, which is not without strongly recalling This Mortal Coil’s version of Spirit’s Nature’s Way, Give or Loaded are beautifully luxuriant as Jain’s voice splits into two separate motifs, which swirl and appear to chase each other until they rejoin later. The instrumentation is pure and stripped down to its most essential, acoustic guitar and piano forming the backbone of the record, with the occasional addition of a cello, to give a more sombre tone to a passage, or drums on the more upfront moments. This leaves Jain right at the forefront, bearing the weight of the songs, and she stands up pretty well all the way through.

From the introvert Indefinable or Give to the more confident swathes of Glory, Haze or Understand and the chanson overtones of Disgrace and Loaded, Jain takes advantage of the intimate settings and distils little tales of everyday life and snapshots of emotions and thoughts. This can at times feel slightly claustrophobic, but Jain knows better than to invade the listener’s space for too long and takes refuge in the delicate layers of each song instead. The result is a remarkable collection of sincere emotional songs which go beyond the folk tag it reluctantly carries.

While Essie Jain’s debut album is resolutely acoustic and intimate, it is also confident and, at times, poignant. The restricted instrumentation serves the songs rather well, developing around Jain’s voice, in turn incredibly fragile or strong, to highlight the various nuances and intonations she applies to give relief to her stories. A pretty flawless debut.


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