The New York Times calls Jess Klein “A songwriter with a voice of unblinking tenacity.” Over two decades and 11 albums, Klein has built a powerfully personal body of work that reflects an instinctive emotional insight, an organic sense of introspection and an unshakable social conscience. Her newest release, Back to My Green explores what it means to maintain hopefulness in America in 2019. It also reflects a bevy of changes in Klein’s personal life, including a new marriage to fellow songwriter Mike June and a cross-country move from the “Live Music Capital” of Austin, TX to rural North Carolina.
Back to My Green is a deeply felt set of original tunes that embodies the same intensity that made Klein’s prior releases so powerful, while adding a playful sensibility that reflects the inspiration of her new surroundings. Such new compositions as "In Dreams," "Tougher Than I Seem" and "Mammal" pulse with 60’s era MoTown grooves and Atlantic records-style orchestration while "Blair Mountain" and "New Thanksgiving Feast" (a tribute to Native American pipeline protestors) reflect Klein’s folk-rock roots. Co-produced by Klein and North Carolina native Mark Simonsen (The Old Ceremony, Weems/Gerrard Band, film scores: Elephant Sighs, Radiation Veterans and Rareified) and Engineer Thom Canova (Amy Ray, 4 Non-Blondes, Oranj Symphonette), these ten new tracks resonate with feeling, painting a dynamic backdrop for Klein’s singular mezzo-soprano and incisive lyrics.
Over two decades and 11 albums, Jess Klein—who possesses what MOJO calls “one of those voices you want to crawl up close to the speakers to listen to” has pursued a remarkable creative evolution that’s seen her dig ever deeper for resonant emotional insights, while continuing to refine her eloquently melodic, effortlessly accessible song-craft. Jon Pareles of The New York Times calls her “a songwriter with a voice of unblinking tenacity…who finds parables in the everyday and also finds humanity behind the archetypal.”
Klein released three albums with former indie giant Rykodisc (2000-2005) which launched her career around the world. She has since toured the U.S., UK, Europe and Japan on her own and with such artists as Arlo Guthrie, John Fullbright, Damien Dempsey, and Carlene Carter. Her 2014 release, Learning Faith was described by Folk Radio UK as "Unquestionably the finest album of her impressive career." Klein spent eight years soaking up the live music culture of Austin, TX before a 2016 move to tiny but vibrant Hillsborough, North Carolina.
Following the cross-country move, Jess joined forces with Producer Mark Simonsen (The Old Ceremony, Weems/Gerrard Band) and Engineer Thom Canova (Amy Ray, 4 Non-Blondes, Oranj Symphonette) at StudioM in Durham, North Carolina to record a new album entitled Back to My Green.
Back to My Green finds Klein delivering a deeply felt set of original tunes that embody the same intensity that made her prior releases so powerful, while adding a playful sensibility that reflects the inspiration of her new surroundings. Such new compositions as "In Dreams," "Tougher Than I Seem" and "Mammal," evoke 60’s era MoTown while "Blair Mountain" and "New Thanksgiving Feast" (a tribute to Native American pipeline protestors) reflect Klein’s folk/country roots. All resonate with feeling, reflecting the internal and external changes that have influenced Klein's current batch of compositions.
One unexpected change in Klein's creative life was a physical one that forced Klein to retool her songwriting process. "In early 2017," she explains, "I developed a Repetitive Strain Injury that made it painful for me to play guitar or to write or type for long periods of time. That was terrifying for me. I felt overwhelmed with fear of what the election was gonna bring, and now, the one way I was used to channeling my emotions into something positive had become physically painful. I had to learn to write music differently, to run with melodies in my mind and not rely on the guitar to dictate the chord changes. I had to trust my imagination and trust the musicians around me to execute what I was hearing. In the end it led me to a much bigger and more collaborative sound."
"It felt like the more confident I got, the bigger my ideas got all around," Klein notes. "I became determined to write songs about being strong and resilient and finding hope and healing. It can be scary to say those things in dark times. But it's not naive. It's powerful. Positivity is still a powerful choice."
Preview Back to My Green
Some of Jess’s Previous Albums
Photo: Mike June