Quietly and calmly resembling master singer/songwriter Nick Drake, Darren Jessee has captured a dreamscape of sound in his new album The Jane Room 217. Though it can be off-putting for a moment that a seasoned drummer has included no percussion in his solo debut, Jessee more than makes up for it with incredible and soulful music and lyrics. There’s a hushed intensity in this nine track venture, which is only complemented by a subtle string accompaniment and the sometimes withering piano work. What is most profound about this album is the deep connection that Jessee is able to make with the listener, making The Jane Room 217 a total knockout in every way.
Honesty reigns true throughout the 40 minute runtime in this album. Jessee has purposely chosen to not hide behind heavy production and bears his pleasant, warm voice as advertised. There is a distinct heartache and happiness that interact through each track, which grows deeper with each listen. “Dying Violins” is a perfect example of this technique, melancholic and nostalgic in all the right ways. Jessee’s intensity is understated and complex, underlined by almost too-similar, simple guitar riffs. Fragility is the surprising foundation The Jane Room 217 functions upon. At times, the album devastatingly beautiful, as heard in the final track “Go On Baby Break Down”. “Go on baby break down, let the healing begin” Jessee croons, a gentle reminder of an unkempt population that still struggles with allowing themselves to crash, burn, and rise from the ashes. Forlorn but still yearning to grow, this album is a much needed gear shift away from the normal depressive pop-folk output.
The Jane Room 217, though a somewhat drastic move from seasoned session drummer Darren Jessee, is complex and instantly top shelf of its genre. Supplemented with an undying and forthright optimism, Jessee’s heartache and acute sensibility paint a vulnerable, nine track picture that is anything but stylistically-challenged. Annunciating each word and sound with experienced composition doesn’t downplay Jessee’s true talent and good heart. This album is a peak performance of a humble and introspective artist. Don’t miss it.