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Jess Morgan Jess Morgan
Album: Edison Gloriette
Label: Drabant
Tracks: 11

Jess Morgan is, without doubt, one of the finest Americana singers in the UK at present. Hailing from Norfolk, but not the one in Virginia, she bring small town America to life with an individual sound and distinctive voice. Jess regularly produces albums and EPs, whilst touring extensively, and is firmly established as a performer people enjoy seeing and listening to. 2016 saw the launch of her fourth album, Edison Gloriette, which maintains a track record of quality music.

If there's a theme to this album is the feel of life outside the mainstream, or out of this time, and it starts with the title. What is an "Edison Gloriette"? Google is no help but it sounds as if it should be a record player, or perhaps juke box. The opening track, The Longest Arm, with its harmonica backing and gentle guitar, also has a feel of the past bringing to mind a land of dusty roads and large automobiles outside the diner where the server is still called a waitress.

The narrator of the album also doesn't quite fit easily readily into place. Hymn To The Morning is a another gentle, moving, song about a girl unsure if she has found love, but desperately hoping so.

"Will there be no-one but me, will there be nobody else.
Hand on your heart swear on the bible."

However on Skate Whilst You're Skinny, almost a partner song, there is a sense of freedom and this song has a really upbeat feel to it. Perhaps she's not quite ready to settle down yet.

"Keep your lover in mind, there's a long long time to cruise,
Up and down town in roller skate shoes."

Of course, what every song has in common is Jess' warm husky, yet delicate, voice which immediately draws you to her and the clear diction of every word really allows you to really listen to the song. It is an album of stories to be listened to and the backing is carefully balanced to allow that. It has been produced and mixed using the same producer and sound engineer on her first album back in 2010, so the team are familiar with each other and this must help in knowing where to push and where to pull.

Overall this is a wonderfully balanced album, with a good mixture of tempos. It's an excellent introduction to Jess' music if you're not familiar with her or a very worthwhile addition to the library if you are.

Edison Gloriette is available on all the usual platforms or via the artist's website as both download or CD. Also, if you're looking for the potential collector's item of the future there's a limited edition oxblood coloured LP.

Tony Birch