Quick-rising Boston-based folk-pop songstress Jess Klein has an agreeable fun-loving sound that gets in your head and doesn't go away. Her diverse style features a bit of everything:
Nanci Griffith-style countrified folk, bluesy alternative folk that recalls Victoria Williams, punkier fare reminiscent of PJ Harvey, and glossy pop a la Stevie Nicks, and even some flourishes of R&B. A native of Rochester, New York, Klein grew up with a number of creative pursuits -- painting, dancing, playing clarinet -- but had never played guitar until she borrowed her dad's old acoustic one before embarking on a junior year abroad in Jamaica. There she taught herself chords and discovered a weekly meeting of dub poets where she began to play regularly, helping her refine her songwriting and performance skills. After college she settled in Boston, where she's spent the last few years developing her craft. In 1998 she independently released Wishes Well Disguised. The success of that album (which sold primarily on the strength of her Boston-area performances) earned her the Boston female singer/songwriter of the year award and a spot at the Newport Folk Festival, further helping her expand her audience. After that, the up-and-coming songwriter assembled an all-star alternative Americana rock band featuring Wilco drummer Ken Coomer, Matthew Sweet bassist Brad Jones, and Josh Rouse guitarist Will Kimbrough to record her next effort, the eclectic, loose-limbed Ryko/Slow River LP, Draw Them Near (2000), which features the bittersweet, childlike, Lucinda Williams-ish "Little White Dove."
Draw Them Near