Jess Klein Draws Us Near With Intense, Poetic Lyrics
By by RACHEL ZINN, Staff Writer
While a few songs on "Draw Them Near" falter in an attempt at a more edgy style, most of Jess Klein's new album sticks to the acoustic harmonies that make her great.

Klein, who performed at Amherst two years ago, is a Boston-based singer and songwriter who plays in the folk-rock style Amherst students have become familiar with through artists like Dar Williams.

The full sound and soulful lyrics that characterize Klein's tunes are showcased nicely in "Ireland," the third song on the album. Her clear voice rings true as she croons, "Green enough to be your heaven / Green enough to be your sea / Greener than the rolling hills / Could you ever see that in me?"

Listeners who like a little harder touch might prefer the first track on the album, "Little White Dove," which features twanging electric guitar and solid percussion as the song's driving forces. Several other songs, such as the insightful "I Tried," also pick up the pace without sounding forced or gimmicky.

Songs that are not quite as successful include "Love Is Where You Find It." The lyrics on this track do have Klein's usually poetic quality, but they sound out of place against the jazzy brass backdrop. This song tries too hard to be truly innovative.

On the other hand, Klein really shines as a unique talent on her ballads. "Song for an Angel" speaks to the part of us that's scared we will end up alone.

The song concludes in a glorious crescendo as a delicate acoustic guitar pattern cascades under Klein singing, "So I step outside, let the snowflakes melt upon my face / My true love's tears / Someday I'll catch them with this much grace / Where are you? Who are you? When you gonna come to me?"

For the most part, "Draw Them Near" provides an enjoyable and intense listening experience, and clearly establishes that Klein is an up-and-comer on the New England music scene.

Issue 02, Submitted 2000-09-13 15:55:44