When Jess Klein sings her songs, it’s clear you’re experiencing “a very talented and highly gifted singer-songwriter,” hails Maverick magazine. Over the last 15 years her artistic gifts have taken her across North America and Europe and around the globe to Japan. And consistently won her an ever-growing legion of devoted fans and followers plus high critical praise over what is now seven albums.
It’s all due to what Mojo magazine calls “one of those voices you want to crawl up close to the speakers to listen to.” And songs that “are fully realized, finely observed, and deeply felt,” observes the Cape Cod Times of Klein’s writing gifts. Those qualities are found in abundance on her latest album, Behind a Veil.
The disc bravely chronicles her feelings during a particularly hard year: the loss of her father after a five-year battle with ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease), a split with a longtime lover, and her self-empowering decision to move forward as a recording artist on her own label. Produced by Mark Addison and recorded at his Aerie Studio just outside of Austin, Behind a Veil opens with with the stirring title track and closes with an inviting and uplifting affirmation on “Unwritten Song.” And in between journeys through an abundant range of musical and emotional moods and modes.
One can feel a soul “trying to reclaim my own headroom” within the solemn daybreak of “Wilson Street Serenade,” the prayerful “Beautiful Child,” and how Klein puts one foot forward after another from heartbreak on “A Room of Your Own.” She takes a tough rocking stance on the double-sided coin of “Lovers and Friends” and channels the enchanting allure of love into delightfully upbeat rhythmic seduction on “Tell Me This Is Love” and “Riverview.” Spiritual mysteries and emotional complexities are explored with smarts, heart and wit on “Mona.” And the magic of a genuine connection finds inspiring grandeur on “Simple Love.”
All told, the album abounds with the full richness of human feeling, transcends genre, and is rife with musical and lyrical mastery. Behind a Veil confirms All Music Guide‘s observation that Klein is “an artist who continues to grow with each new album.” No Depression declares the disc “an excellent album – a career-maker in fact [that] shows why she ought to be Americana’s next big thing. ”
Hailing from Rochester, New York, Klein first picked up the guitar and started writing songs while living as a student in Kingston, Jamaica in her late teens. After returning to the US and graduating college, she moved to Boston and began to perform locally, independently releasing her first album, Wishes Well Disguised, which led All Music to declare her “well deserving of national attention.”
After winning the Telluride Troubadour Songwriting Contest and garnering several Boston Music Award nominations, Klein was spotted and signed to the Rykodisc label, with whom she released three albums. Draw Them Near in 2000 was rated 3.5 stars out of four by USA Today and launched her on a worldwide tour. Klein moved to New York City in 2005 and issued Strawberry Lover, which debuted as the #1 most added-album at Triple A radio the week of its release. 2006’s City Garden found her exploring deep blues influences and was praised by All Music for “her growth as an artist [that] is impossible to miss.”
Klein relocated to Austin in 2008, where she quickly embraced the music of her new home. In between tours, she found time to collaborate with some of Austin’s most talented artists, including Jon Dee Graham, Butch Hancock, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Jimmy LaFave, Slaid Cleaves, Will Sexton, Ray Bonneville, Randy Weeks and Matt the Electrician as well as native Texan Radney Foster. In 2009 she released her first recording with Addison, Bound to Love, on the UFO label. It prompted the Boston Globe to declare Klein as “quite simply one of the most gifted performers this area has produced.”
Along her musical journey, Klein has performed for 70,000 people at Japan’s Fuji Festival, appeared on “Good Morning America” performing her song “Little White Dove” as part of the songwriter collective Voices on the Verge, was plugged as a notable musical artist by Parade magazine to its 80 million readers, and had her number “Strawberry Lane” named one of the “Top 10 Sexiest Songs of the Moment” by the New York Daily News. She has shared the stage with such notable artists as Arlo Guthrie, Steve Earle, Shawn Colvin, 10,000 Maniacs, Gilmore, Foster and Alejandro Escovedo, among others.
Most recently Klein sang on lauded up-and-coming Oklahoma singer-songwriter John Fulbright’s Grammy-nominated album, From The Ground Up, as well as opening for and singing on his shows. The prolific Klein has followed Behind a Veil with a limited-release EP, Shy Girl, that features three new songs slated for her next album and four other unreleased tracks, and is available on her website and at Klein’s live performances.
The depth, pluck and emotional acuity of her songwriting on Behind a Veil transforms the challenges and heartache she experienced into a palpably cathartic, liberating and transcendent listening experience. “You never really know what the big picture is to a situation – sometimes the meaning is veiled,” says Klein of the album and its title. “It can seem really bad, but then later you can look back at the same moment and feel so grateful it went that way; I love that about life. Sometimes things are just really hard and really painful, but also beautiful.”
Klein writes honestly and courageously about the conflicting emotions of love, loss, joy and pain. But even in the most delicate passages you can hear the triumph in her voice. “Listening to Klein sing is one of the singular pleasures in life,” swoons Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange. “If [she] continues to write and produce material as strong as every song on Behind a Veil, she’s got a long and prosperous career ahead of her.”