Count me in. Wherever the Jessica Fine bandwagon is, I want on. I’ll take the passenger seat, right up front with the train conductor- hopefully Jessica herself. That’d be nice. Be able to pull that little dangling string to send off the, um, train horn. Do trains have horns? Alarms? Well if there isn’t enough room, I’ll take a few cabs back, amidst the early adopters who found her debut album posted on CD Baby, or who heard about Jessica Fine from a close family friend. I don’t belong there, unfortunately. I’m probably better off with the newer fans towards the middle of the train- those who just discovered her with the independent release of her third untitled EP.
Wherever I’ll be on the train, at least I’ll be on. Jessica Fine’s latest album, and her entire career, is pure pop. Not top 40 radio pop, something more akin to Fiona Apple’s version of pop. Atmospheric, melodic, and stringently lyrical. Jessica Fine dips and weaves emotional purpose through a set of five cohesive songs.
Jessica Fine resides in Los Angeles. The city is rife with tough competition, and a surprising lack of traditional trains. She is clearly no amateur. Every track is thickened with multi-layered instrumentation and contagious lead melodies that add their saccharine flair; all blossomed and filtered through the absolute highlight of Fine’s most prominent instrument- her voice.
Lost at Sea
The EP’s opening track finds Jessica in pure form. The song begins apologetic and somber, and captivates with a light chorus that doesn’t interrupt the flow of music. It’s a dialed down track, relying on the voice of the singer as opposed to a song that’s huge, climactic, and tonally “pop.” It’s easy on the ears without being boring, and the album’s undeniable highlight right off the bat.
Sucker for Love
The album’s second track is more pop centered. A lead little melody drives the majority of the song. What makes the song memorable is the blending of the main hook and the verses. Neither overwhelms the other, which makes for a song surprisingly fluid and presentable.
Fragile (To Future Suitors)
Silly song titles aside, this song takes Jessica Fine to a new musical territory. It’s strictly balladry, and although doesn’t quite achieve the excellence of the first two songs, it never derails into tedium. It does find her exploring a slightly new musical direction with less successful results.
One More Time
The song relies on a more R&B inspired sound, with a really strong influence from some popular peers dominating the territory. I hear a bit of Frank Ocean here, yet more pop-oriented. One More Time is a slow grind. It’s melodic and soulful without brandishing any cheesy pop hooks to make it more radio-friendly. In short, it’s effectual and a nice complement to the rest of the EP.
One can’t be surprised to hear an album end with an artist’s token “epic song.” Fall is arguably the biggest song on the album, lyrically and musically. It’s touching and sweet, and ends sooner than it should. It is also the best (or second best) vocal performance from Jessica Fine on the entire EP. Sweet, sensational, and organically pretty, Fall concludes the album brilliantly.
What makes Jessica Fine appealing, aside from her sincerity, is her voice. It recalls Fiona Apple’s crooning with Lights whimsical upbeat voice. The country aspect of Jessica Fine finds her simultaneously channeling Sarah McLachlin and Sheryl Crowe, and the sound immediately remains contemporary and classic in its own respectable way. Jessica Fine isn’t breaking musical boundaries, but she surely adds her own unique flavor to songs that need her voice to really rise above the pack.
To connect with Jessica, visit her site by clicking HERE.
About Ryan Merkel
Ryan Merkel is a writer on music, pop culture, entertainment, business, and all those other fun things which make life tick. He is an entrepreneur, designer, and overall pop culture enthusiast. Ryan owns the clothing line LoveMended with his wife, which focuses on fashion and charity, as well as the music blog CultureTease. Ryan is the author of two novels, and currently lives in Florida.