I wasn’t sure what to expect, other than a good voice, but for a 21 year old’s debut release when Rose Coloured Glasses started playing it threw me a bit. What I heard was a an achingly soulful voice, signing a beautifully penned song that managed to sound new and fresh, but with a strong traditional country influence at the same time. You won’t believe that Jess is from Lancashire. and if the aforementioned Nashville needs another English actor then look no further – she’s your girl.
You can tell from Jess’ songs that she a young lady with an old soul, and her writing is mature beyond her years, which is perfect for her style of singing. Rose Coloured Glasses gives a time scale of 3 years of reflection (no pun intended), but it could quite easily be used in a situation looking back decades. Where You’re Alone covers one of the country classic subjects of loneliness, and about needing someone, anyone for that one night. Before you get visions of a bro-country style hook-up song, Jess sings about wanting someone to talk to. I can see a music video of this song, with Jess singing, and the screen splitting into two to show the guy she’s singing about, blissfully unaware, going about his business at home.
It’s worth noting at this point that the guitar playing from Dan Gordon and Luke Thomas, Martyn Roper on Double Bass and Matthew Cleghorn on mandolin compliments Jess’ singing perfectly, and I love that the EP is recorded in live acoustic style, which is my personal favourite.
Nobody Wanted is a song about wanting to make someone proud, could be a parent, a friend or a potential suitor – that’s up to your own interpretation. There’s a line weeds instead of roses which is one ‘s’ away from being Weed Instead of Roses by Ashley Monroe, and as someone Jess likes, I wonder if it’s a nod to Ashley. While the line is very similar, the context is quite different in the two songs. Jess’ voice is spot on in getting the feeling of pain and despair across, and this might be my favourite track on the EP. This is another song that has me visualising scenes as I listen – that’s what great storytelling songs should do.
The EP ends with What You Never Had, which has a longer intro then the other songs, and with those beautiful guitars that can only be a good thing. It’s a song that talks of lost moments, of her Father I’m guessing, or at least the Father of the person’s perspective from whom she is singing from. It covers some pretty heartbreaking times in her life, but with a very positive and forgiving outlook. The finger picking guitar playing throughout enhances the tone and atmosphere brilliantly, and is just another example of how well put together this EP is.
I have to say, There’s An Old Saying is a tremendous debut EP from Jess Roberts, that has limitless replay value and has me wanting to hear more from her already. With some more exposure I think Jess has every chance of following in the footsteps of Ward Thomas and The Shires, in being the next big success story to come out of the ever impressive UK country music scene. Listening to Jess’ EP I think she’s probably quite brilliant live, so getting to one of her gigs this summer has become somewhat of a priority for me.
In case you wondered, the guy on the front cover of the EP is Jess’ Dad, and the title There’s An Old Saying, it’s the first line from the fourth song on the EP, What you Never Had. You can get physical and digital copies of There’s An Old Saying from Jess’ Bandcamp page here.
You can see more of Jess Roberts here: