Jess McAllister - Painted Face EP (Mill Records) 
Jess McAllister - Painted Faces

Release Date: 3rd February 2014

Oh the irony! Here I am, just a few miles from Plymouth and actively trying to seek out exciting new local talent. Meanwhile, Jess McAllister is an extremely exciting local talent that I've never heard of who, thanks to a PR company based in Cleveland, I am now acutely aware of. Now it's my turn to make you aware of her talent - it's for your own good. The first clue to Jess' talents come from the brilliantly apt artwork on this release which, on the one hand, show her to be a meek, introverted hippyish type. On the other hand, McAllister can be seen as a feisty, fearless punk with a defiant lip curl and an unpredictable nature. Opening track 'Take A Walk' is a beautifully rippling piano piece that is part Regina Spektor and another, larger part Laura Hocking & The Long Goodbye (look her up if you haven't heard of her). The piano is Jess' weapon of choice and she uses it in the most enthralling and beguiling way in combination with her voice which is somewhere between the Lily Allen's and Kate Nash's of this world and something altogether more lyrical and melodic. Title track, 'Painted Faces', has more attitude and a little more instrumentation but it's the personality and will of our heroine that shines through, whatever the tune.

The haunting vocal harmonies at the very beginning of 'Shadows In The Night' followed by the Ludovico Einaudi-esqu piano riff is simply sumptuous and makes you want to sink deeper and deeper in to the music like a bath full of warm honey. Then again, final track 'Never Mind Buying Time' takes that Kate Nash energy, mixes in the Spektor unhinged-ness and then slaps on a huge layer of defiant triumphalism that should make this an anthem for those waiting for the next Laura Marling to come along. Jess McAllister is a prodigious talent right on my doorstep and I cannot tell you just how much that excites me....well, I guess I have just told you how much in this 500-odd word review but you get my point. Get yourself out to one of her gigs, buy yourself a large glass of something warming (port or brandy I'd suggest), sit back amongst the candle light and let this gorgeous music wash over you. You can thank me later.

More information:

Live Dates:

25th January - Live on BBC Introducing Devon, Plymouth
13th February - B-Bar, Plymouth
17th February - Songsmiths Night @ Mr Wolfs, Bristol
18th February - The Abbey, Kentish Town
19th February - The Dublin Castle, Camden
28th February - The Barrel House, Totnes

1st March - Real Food Cafe, Exeter