London-based singer-songwriter Jess Chalker recently released her full-length album, Hemispheres, featuring two hit singles, “Dance in the Rain” and “West Hollywood.”
Originally from Sydney, Australia, and a former Jehovah’s Witness, on Hemispheres, Jess blends elements of electro-pop with retro flavors from the ‘80s into delicious sonic potions.
Talking about the album’s genesis, Jess shares, “When the pandemic hit, it was the first time in a few years that I actually had time to stop and breathe. I lost my day job to Covid, but for a while, I’d been battling with an identity crisis: balancing two careers, one as a songwriter, the other in marketing/communications. I was traveling all the time, never really knowing what occupation to write on my immigration cards, or what to tell people when they asked me what I did for a living. On top of that, I was going through some health issues, which made everything more challenging. Like many I found myself spiraling a little in 2020 and needed an outlet. So, I turned to my artist project, and poured myself into being creative again; pretty soon I was collaborating with friends across Sydney, LA, and London to finish a record.”
She goes on to add, “The process of getting this album out there feels pretty scary but also self-empowering at this point in my life. I grew up in a religion that discouraged us from pursuing career success, where only men were allowed on stage to address an audience. It was a culture where the ‘elevation of the individual’ wasn’t allowed, i.e., no birthdays, celebrations, or posters of rock stars on the walls, etc. That’s stayed with me in a lot of ways I think: I’ve always focused more on doing stuff that has been behind the scenes. But I feel really proud of this work and thankful for the friends who have worked with me on it. This record is for them too, as much as it is for me.”
Jess began as a YouTube artist, followed by fronting the new wave duo We Are The Brave, who released a couple of grassroots hits. After that, she toured three continents, along with collaborating with artists such as Sam Fischer, Tate McRae, Vintage Culture, Isamachine, Gold Kimono, Passenger, and a host of others. She also co-wrote Lisa Loeb’s Grammy-winning “Feel What U Feel.”
Encompassing 10-tracks, entry points on Hemispheres include “Stupid Trick,” a galvanizing, low-slung electro-pop tune riding a contagious rhythm as Jess’ deluxe voice infuses the lyrics with potent emotions. It’s one of those voices at once delicate and vulnerable, yet plush and exotic.
“Dance in The Rain” opens on shimmering coruscations flowing into a driving rhythm topped by brilliant orchestral flows of color. Brimming with ‘80s-laced vibes, the tune surges with dazzling textures and glowing hues.
A dark throbbing beat accented by luminous sparkles gives “Don’t Fight It” an enveloping alluring feel, simultaneously hefty and irresistible. A personal favorite, “West Hollywood” thrums on a vibrant, fat bassline as Jess’ velvety tones spin out overhead, forming a luscious sonic milieu.
The final track, “Cathedrals,” travels on exquisitely tender tones, vaguely reminiscent of Sarah McLachlan – gorgeously lingering and poignant.
Wonderfully wrought, Hemispheres is superb – well-worth time and attention.