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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Jessie Kilguss

Exotic Bird

Review by Gary Hill

Jessie Kilguss has shown herself to be a complicated artist. Parts of this CD share a lot with artists like Bjork and Tori Amos. Yet, we also get pure jazz and Pink Floyd like textures. Sounds not far from Joni Mitchell are also heard. The only real constants on the disc are talent and a willingness to break out of any kind of a box. All in all this is an entertaining and intriguing album that showcases true artistry. I wouldn’t say that every song completely bowls me over, but I like the whole picture a lot. It is an exotic (and unusual) bird for certain.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Desert Song
An almost Pink Floyd-like acoustic guitar motif makes up the backdrop for Kilguss’ folk meets alternative vocals. This is great song, catchy and yet a bit risky. You might hear a bit of Mazzy Star on this.
All I Am Is Breath
A duet with Alan Cox, this number is sort of a Latin textured ballad. It’s got a great alternative rock delivery and, while the first number was an excellent one – and a great lead in, this one ups the ante. It’s powerful and entertaining and at times reminds me of The Cure a bit, while at others it leans towards mellow progressive rock.
Lord Lucan
The backing sounds and general musical layout of this piece reminds me of Laurie Anderson. The vocals have a more folk feel to them, but the backing sounds really feel like Anderson.
Don't
Mazzy Star meets Patsy Cline on this one. It’s another cool song and shows a slightly different approach to Kilguss’ artistry.
The Dream
This one has world music sounds, progressive rock elements and a healthy dosage of weirdness amongst its arrangement. We even get some great old school jazz here. This is one of the most unusual cuts on show here and also one of my favorites.
The Word
More mainstream, this is a pretty ballad that feels like it could have come from a folk rock album of the early 1970’s. This is another highlight of the CD.
The Crypt
Dramatic and piano dominated, this is another strong ballad. It feels at first like it would have fit on one of those old-school folk rock discs. When more elements and textures join and the arrangement fills out it begins to resemble modern alternative music more like Tori Amos or Bjork a bit more.

The Acrobat
This one combines that 70’s era folk sound with a jazz approach. It’s another cool ballad.

I'll Shoot The Moon
The early parts of this one are pretty much pure old jazz. This motif isn’t totally discarded later, but layers are added to give it a bit of a “weird” flavor.
Sometimes
A harder rocking bass line leads this off. The vocals come in over the top of this and it feels like it might explode out into a crunchy techno musical texture. Instead of metalling it up, Kilguss drops things way back down to a sedate and playful, yet dark approach that has bit of Tori Amos does horror movie music feel. The bass returns after this section with an even more hard rocking style. Other instruments bring in a jazzy feel rather than a more hard rocking one. It returns to the mellower motif for another go around. It turns to a rather techno like sound as it moves forward but returns to the playful section.
Delicate Queen
Sound effects and a rhythmic structure serve as the backdrop for a spoken vocal section on this odd piece. At around the one minute mark it feels like it’s going to launch out into a hard rocking sound, but doesn’t quite do it. We do get some more vocals here, these almost sung rather than spoken. This is without question the most unique cut on here. It’s not bad, but a little odd and doesn’t hold up as well as some of the other stuff.
The Desperate Ones
Piano serves as the backdrop for this gentle cut. It’s a bit of a strange texture, but it works pretty well. When the arrangement becomes more complete we get a hint of a Pink Floyd feel to it – ala the mellower parts of The Wall or The Final Cut. This is quite ambient and rather evocative. I’m not sure it makes for the strongest conclusion to the disc that Kilguss could have gotten, but it’s still an intriguing piece of music.
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