Album – Exotic Bird – Jessie Kilguss

Posted by admin on February 11th, 2008

I got this album in via a MySpace request and have to admit it wasn’t quite what I was expecting, based on the tracks I’d listened to. This 12 track album, has some flashes of pure brilliance, but also some tracks that aren’t quite my cup of tea. The opening track “Desert Song” is one of those tracks that failed to grab me. It almost sounds like a country track, from the guitar that opens, but turns into a more theatrical song. I can’t pinpoint what it is that just doesn’t hang with me, but I think it just doesn’t do anything to sell Jessie’s amazing voice. The track that follows “All I Am is Breath”, however is pure magic. It’s a song that’s reminds me very much of a Jennifer Warnes, Leonard Cohen collaboration. I love the male vocals which provide a great contrast to Jessie’s. “Lord Lucan” is also an amazing track, albeit with an interesting subject matter, Lord (Lucky) Lucan, the 1970’s aristocrat, who supposedly murdered his children’s nanny, thinking it was his wife and then disappeared. “Pulling a Lucan” became a phrase in England synonymous with making a disappearance.

“Don’t” is one of several covers on the album, which can be very difficult things to pull off. People have been covering popular artists forever, but there are two different approaches to take, either cover the song in a similar style, or run with it and make it your own. Jessie takes the former approach and I couldn’t help but wish she’d firmly stamped her hallmark on it. “The Word” is a quite remarkable track, which really shows Jessies voice to it’s fullest. As making comparisons is my forté, I’d say there is a remarkable likeness to Karen Carpenter. Not so much in the tone, for which there are few to match, but more in the tone and phrasing. In fact this track and the two that follow, “The Crypt” and “The Acrobat” are the style that I find most enjoyable. Jessie’s swings from the sweet and gentle, to the dramatic and theatrical, which while still entertaining, don’t excite me in the same way. Her vesion of Tom Wait’s “I’ll Shoot the Moon” is in fact a cover I really enjoyed. I’m not too familiar with the original, but have to admit I’m not a fan of Tom Waits at all. This however is a great track, which I have to attribute to Jessie’s vocals. It has a very 40’s feel to it and reminds me of the classic movie It’s a Wonderful Life.

The album draws to an end, with “The Desperate Ones”, originally by Jacques Brel, a name I’m not too familiar with. It rounds things off nicely, with a more melancholic sound.

Conclusion : Whilst there’s no doubt Jessie has a wonderful voice, there’s a couple of songs here that I feel don’t let Jessie shine to her fullest. The majority of the tracks however are terrific.

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