Reader Zepp noted and commented that Jillaine has a free download of "Jingle Bells" from her (first) Christmas album on her website. Nothing better than a free Christmas song, right? Thanks to Zepp for pointing that out. Here is a link to Jillaine's download page:
Friday, August 10, 2012
Sunday, August 5, 2012
In 2011, jazz songstress Jillaine released "Scars on My Heart", following her 2009 debut, "You Really Meant It". "Scars on My Heart" features 12 new songs, nine written by Jillaine, and is a very worthy sophomore effort.
I admire an artist that explores different styles and techniques. While it may not work exactly as expected ("Chris Gaines", anyone?), respect points are always earned for the effort. With "Scars", Jillaine moved from the piano/guitar jazz sound into some unabashed rockers. "You've Lost", in particular, is a superbly written and performed song backed by a rock beat and featuring a well-done guitar shred. The song, written by Erik Chaston, is a strong in-your-face message, spelling out in no uncertain terms the current state of an ex-relationship. "Confusion", "Hole You Dug", and "Doubts" also stretch Jillaine away from the jazz-club sound and into more edgy, rock-infused cuts.
The strongest songs here, though, are the performances in her home genre of jazz. Jillaine's amazing voice is perfectly suited for the spotlight of jazz, where it can shine as the focal point, complemented and supported by the instrumental accompaniment. Where Pat Benatar, Chrissie Hynde, and (yep) Lady Gaga have mastered the art of dominant lead vocals in rock songs, Jillaine has comparable talent in her comfort zone, jazz.
The title performance, "Scars on My Heart", is a highlight of the album. Jillaine sings with a subtle strength, interpreting this song in her middle and upper registers. Sam Jones on guitar and bass and Ryan Flores on drums provide perfect musical accompaniment.
"Strong and Sure" is beautifully performed. It is smooth, restrained, and soft, yet consurrently strong, with a deliberate, growing intensity through the song.
The album closes with, in my opinion, the two strongest performances. On "This Time" Jillaine explores her range, strategically incorporating the lows into the higher-register themes, with superb results. Craig Adler is stunning on guitar and bass.
"Doubts R&B" is an extended reworking of "Doubts" from earlier in the album. It goes back to basics - vocals and piano - with simply perfect results, and gets my vote for the best performance on the album. It is a shining moment in all aspects - vocal and instrumental performance (Craig Adler returns on piano), lyrics, and arrangement. Love, love, love it. It is a great way to bring the album to a close - the listener is left wanting more.
"Scars on My Heart" is another strong effort from Jillaine, who has become one of my favorite new artists. She's given us variety, stepping into different musical arenas, while reassuring us that she can return to the stronghold of jazz at any time and blow us away with her performance.
Still to come: "Jazzy Christmas To You", Jillaine's 2011 Christmas album, "As American as Jazz", a 2012 release of patriotic/Americana songs, and a promised upcoming 2012 Christmas release. Two Christmas albums in two years - that's my kind of artist!
Jillaine on Facebook
"Scars on My Heart" was provided for review by the artist.
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
I have about 300 jazz CDs in my collection, which is paltry when compared to many jazz music lovers, but still a pretty decent accumulation of music. Probably between 75 and 100 are primarily jazz vocals, a minority of my collection, but a good representation of jazz vocalists through the years.
In my collection, I have nothing that compares to Jillaine.
Jillaine is an independent vocal artist possessing a powerful, steamy, sultry voice that leaps out at you from the first few bars of her debut album, the 2009 release "You Really Meant It". She does not have a sound similar to the greats - Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaugh, Billie Holliday - nor the contemporary stars of jazz like Roberta Gambarini, Sophie Milman, or Jane Monheit. Jillaine has a voice and style all her own, and it's good stuff, cats, good stuff.
Jillaine's "You Really Meant It" features nine songs, four written by Jillaine. The first song, "Older, Stronger, and Wiser, Too" is an exceptional lead track which quickly envelopes us with the heart and soul of Jillaine's voice. The record continues with "You've Got Your Memories", a gut-wrenching breakup song with excellent guitar accompaniment by Sam Jones.
The songs on "You Really Meant It" are steeped in the musicality of jazz standards. You feel as if you're in a piano lounge, sipping a martini, listening to a masterful vocalist with piano and guitar acting as enhancers, complementing and never overshadowing the vocals.
All nine songs on "You Really Meant It" are strong. Jillaine's partner musicians have just the right touch. I especially enjoyed the two songs written and accompanied by Anthony Phan, "Love Without Distance" and "Misfortune".
"Misfortune", the closing piece, is full of swagger, and, like most of the songs on this record, explores the darker aspects of life and relationships (or, recently ended relationships). Jillaine's voice is uniquely suited to driving home the emotion present in the lyrics.
I love finding music from independent artists, especially those with the talent and potential to be stars. The internet has given these artists an unprecedented method of connecting with fans, and, conversely, has made it possible for fans and music lovers to interact with artists as never before. Jillaine has a website, http://www.jillainerecords.com/index.html, a Facebook presence, https://www.facebook.com/JillaineRecords, and other web-based avenues to her music.
It was through the internet, via my friend Stubby at Stubby's House of Christmas, that I was first introduced to Jillaine's music. (Stubby's review of Jillaine's 2011 Christmas CD is here). Many kudos and thanks to Stubby for his tireless work to find all the best new Christmas music year-in and year-out. Without Stubby, I may have never found Jillaine's music.
"You Really Meant It" is a tremendous debut from a promising new artist. I love Jillaine's voice, seriously.
Jillaine has released "Scars on My Heart" (2011), "Jazzy Christmas To You" (2011), "As American as Jazz" (2012), and a single "My World" (2012) since her first album. I'll be reviewing all of her albums here, as Jillaine has graciously provided me with CDs for review.
I have not listened to her Christmas CD yet, as I'm saving it as a treat to open when the season arrives (which for me, is about mid-September). And I have no doubt that it will indeed be a treat for my ears.
Please treat yourself and visit Jillaine's website for more information and song samples from this tremendous jazz singer.