Jess Jocoy - Brighter Eyes
I just love it when I discover a relatively new singer-songwriter, one that bowls me over with their freshness of sound and style; music that connects with me on both an emotional and artistic level. That’s the way it is with Jess Jocoy, who first came to my notice last year with SUCH A LONG WAY, her acclaimed full-album debut (https://www.alancackett.com/jess-jocoy-such-a-long-way). Due to the pandemic, Jess, who usually performs around 150 shows a year, has been stuck in her adopted hometown of Nashville. This has allowed her the time to create BRIGHTER EYES, a four-track EP, which more than lives up to the promise of that first album. If it could be possible, these four songs make an even greater impact, luring you into finding yourself lost with yesterday’s thoughts, occupied by today’s choices, and captivated by tomorrow’s chances. Mesmerising and stately, this is a folk-country music record of the most potent kind. Jess has a way with simple stories and melodies that feels eternal. The poeticism of a Jess Jocoy song can leave you dumbfounded, listening back more closely to make out all the intricacies in her language. The way she weaves words together is awe-inspiring, especially on this EP’s title track.
Mickey Raphael’s swirling harmonica sets the scene for the languid Brighter Eyes, as Jess places her evocative voice to a deceptively uneasy beat, evoking a once restless soul, taking a step back from the rat race to see life more clearly through brighter eyes. Pursuing liberation when others remain trapped in everyday lives, the light shines beneath the darkness, so that as the song unwinds with tempered half-thoughts drifting in and out of focus, like bursts of bright sunlight through stale bedroom air. She moves to the front-porch for Constellations, a warm slow-roller that feels like a favourite, comfy shirt. Soft-focus country-folk that's delicate to the touch but delivers a hefty emotional punch. No one does melancholy quite as elegantly as this young lady. The startlingly impressive Winter exudes an intimacy and emotion that seems limitless. Wavering to deliver the perfect amount of emotional vulnerability that we all long for, this song goes deep into her soul and maybe yours as well. It’s gorgeous … lifted by a textured arrangement of reverb, telecaster and pedal steel interplay, that ebbs like a tide; at turns a gentle swell, at others a tumultuous crashing.
The record’s centre-point is Mansion On A Hill, a heartfelt love song, in a gender switch, sung from a husband’s perspective and full of warm sentiments and soulful vocals. It takes a rare song for me to put it on to a continuous repeat, this is one of those, as I discover something fresh and new with each listen. Her voice shines here with vocals that twist and snap with tension and emotional depth. Ultimately the song showcases the growth of an exciting songwriter, destined to be one of the greatest of her generation. This quartet of inviting songs show, not only her talent as a singer and songwriter, but also her courage. These are her deepest feelings, her truth. We can only sit back, listen and be thankful that Jess Jocoy is willing to share all of this with the world.