Jenny Gillespie’s new EP ‘Belita’ is an intriguing blend of folk, lo-fi college indie, with, if at tomes acoustic alt-rock come folk. Produced by Jenny and multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily (Jolie Holland, Bonnie Prince Billy, Lou Reed) this is her third release after the lush chamber folk of Light Year (2009) and the ambient progressive pop of Kindred (2010).
To get to this point, though, I feel we would all be better off with more background of these days, as anyone with acoustic guitar, happily dons the folk tag, funny that ‘Ace Of Spades’ at a foot tapping pace, not to big to say I cried, how can music mean so little? So aforementioned details – When Gillespie performed a YouTube cover of Sam Amidon’s ‘Saro’ Ismaily, Amidon’s longtime bandmate, contacted Jenny to share his appreciation of her version. From there a conversation grew and developed into collaboration. Gillespie travelled from her hometown of Chicago to New York City to record a new work with Ismaily over the course of 2 weeks. They discovered common north stars of their musical vocabulary (Vashti Bunyan, Mark Kozelek, Joni Mitchell’s Hejira, and Ali Farke Toure, among others) and decided they would create something that truly featured Gillespie’s unique acoustic guitar playing, set often to open tunings inspired by Gillespie’s most beloved influence, Joni Mitchell.
The Belita EP’ featuring turns by Amidon on back up vocals, Marc Ribot (Tom Waits) on electric guitar, and Jim White (PJ Harvey, Cat Power) on drums, the resulting record is a nuanced and modern approach to the folk genre. Globally influenced, but intimately rendered, with precise yet imaginative instrumentation. With my arm twisted, I call time, pick Creature Of Our Make’ as the choice track from the ‘Belita’ EP, but understand it has competition.
That was easily enough to capture all of my attentions, which were rewarded with the beguiling and rich, ‘Creature Of A Make’ is on repeat, strangely the world is a better place. 8/10
A lighter moment, ‘Bamboo & Silk’