Julia Massey & The Five Finger Discount and Jean Mann
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Imported from the Mid-Atlantic by way of the rocky mountain state, Julia Massey brings to the city of Seattle an outer-space sized sound that she and her band have branded COSMIC-FOLK-ROCK. The music they're producing is fun, full of energy, and heart-opening; and that's just scratching the surface.
Writing, recording, and performing alongside Massey for the last three years are bassist Geoff B. Gibbs and drummer Dominic Cortese. That's been enough time to hone in on a particular feel, but their critically acclaimed release of 2011, Is There Room For Me? is not what you would expect.
This album is, by far, Massey's heaviest and most experimental to date, almost completely transcending her self-proclaimed genre. Characteristic of Massey's previous recordings, Is There Room For Me? gives the first impression that it is one lollipop short of children's music, but the listener quickly realizes this music is not for children, but rather brings out the child in you, which is the essence of Massey's genius. Is There Room For Me? is innocent, playful, and sometimes sensual; yet, its most redeeming quality is its subtlety. Whether it is Massey's unique vocals, timeless poetry, or the edgy accompaniment from Gibbs and Cortese to Massey's progressions and melodies, this record unveils a new season at every listen.
As the record unfolds, Massey cheerily explores subjects such as the similarities between the top of a mountain and the bottom of an ocean, alien visits, and a skate park she used to observe outside of her living room window. She also touches on more introspective themes such as the last wishes of a dying parent in "Aghadoe" and our place in the universe on the title track. Massey also pays homage to one of her heroes, Emily Dickinson, on a track titled "#712," after a poem of the same name. Dickinson's influence can be seen all over Massey's lyrics throughout the album.
In short, Massey and her band turn what is seemingly a collection of pop songs into a collage of compositions that display a thick stack of thin layers to be effortlessly peeled back by listeners. Unlike Radiohead or other Prog bands whose music takes years to uncover fully, all of Massey's layers float into your psyche like a feather taking your heart and mind on a journey that ends in sunshine. Then, like all great bands, you want more.
Noted alt-folk indie-pop singer songwriter, Seattle-based Jean Mann has a lot to write and sing about. Having toured extensively since releasing her first album, blossom (2000), this innovative, self-taught performer shares her soulful, lovely and gritty-honest tales woven through the voice of an angel. Her vocal prowess, combined with eclectic instrument playing (de-tuned acoustic 6-string and tenor guitars, harmonica and ukulele), results in the homey, intimate feeling of sitting around a kitchen table with close friends.
Jean has released four albums since she began pouring out her world in song, beginning September 1999, the very day her mother passed away. Along the road of that life-changing event, came more life, love, a stolen vintage Gibson guitar and enough broken hearts to fill a country western album. A cache of beautifully arranged songs and an empowered voice emerged through it all. Jean Mann is a truly soul-quenching force in today's independent music scene.
Empty Sea Studios (View)
6300 Phinney Ave N
Seattle, WA 98103
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