Jessie Kilguss to Hold Record Release Show at Rockwood Music Hall
Tickets available here.
After four widely heralded self-released albums, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Jessie Kilguss is clearly on the verge of gaining the wider recognition she so decidedly deserves. Her mood-affecting melodies reflect an artist who consistently proves herself remarkably adept at expressing a wide array of interests and emotions that stir the senses through both her vocals and in her verse.
"I've always been a seeker on some mystic quest, driven by a deep unrest," Kilguss insists. Indeed, it's the mantra that guides her excellent new album, aptly titled The Fastness. The title, she says, refers to "a remote, mysterious, natural refuge" and indeed, that description could easily apply to the album itself. It's a body of work that explores the idea of travel and transition, and the new world and the old world through death and rebirth.
Produced, engineered and mixed by Joe Rogers, the man behind the boards for her highly acclaimed album Devastate Me, The Fastness features a crack session band that includes guitarist Kirk Schoenherr, bassist John Kengla, drummer Rob Heath, harmony singers and frequent collaborators Susan Hwang, Leslie Graves and Julie DeLano (members of the band Jim Andralis and the Syntonics, with whom she regularly performs and records), and Kilguss herself on vocals and harmonium.
In every sense then, The Fastness is a high-water mark for an artist whose many career highlights include a special performance at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival and about whom American Songwriter once wrote, "Jessie Kilguss is here to devastate you...Singing a bit like the great Sandy Denny..."...(Devastate Me) is a finely-wrought, deep, dark valentine of a record, that with luck, will lure listeners who still believe in the well-crafted song..."
She wrote a few of the songs on tour in Europe singing harmony and playing harmonium in Freddie Stevenson's band, opening for Mike Scott and the Waterboys during the European leg of their Modern Blues tour.
Indeed The Fastness takes its time, allowing moods and images to steadily reveal themselves in ways both sensual and seductive. "This album has a more illuminating, and at times, more elusive feel to it than the last one," Kilguss muses. "I wanted to try something slightly different, and I'm happy with how it turned out. I think a lot can be accomplished with voices alone, so I was especially excited to add Susan, Leslie and Julie to the mix. We're used to blending our voices, so it was a pleasure to bring them into the studio. In fact, the addition of the other women's voices became one of my favorite elements of the album."
Kilguss ability to express herself has always been a major part of her MO, one evident in her earlier albums -- Nocturnal Drifter (2009), The Sky Road (2012) and the aforementioned Devastate Me (2014), which The Huffington Post described as "arresting," and which Americana UK declared as "...a record to draw solace from, to be comforted by..."
She's always been a conduit for creativity. She got her start in acting, appearing alongside Daniel Day-Lewis in The Crucible and later, after completely acting studies in Britain, performing in a touring production of As You Like It directed by Royal Shakespeare Company founder Sir Peter Hall. Her switch to songwriting began after she was privileged to perform with one of her musical heroes, Marianne Faithfull, in a production of The Black Rider, a musical written by Tom Waits and William Burroughs and directed by Robert Wilson, in both London, England and Sydney, Australia.
She turned to songwriting and making music she says, because they were a way to take creative control.
Those efforts don't stop there. Kilguss is a frequent contributor and occasional co-producer of the Bushwick Book Club, a monthly performance series based around books and public performances.
She's also the Development Director of Musicambia, a non-profit that brings music learning and ensemble performance to prisons throughout the United States.