Jess McAllister: Painted Faces – ep review

Jess McAllister – Painted Faces EP (Mill Records)
Out Now


Pop/folk singer-songwriter, Jess McAllister, releases her debut EP. Louder Than Wars Paul Scott-Bates reviews.

The four track EP from Jess McAllister, now on its second release, showcases an artist with quite a talent in songwriting, but also with sugar coated vocals which are both believable and enchanting. Jess does not claim to be the best in her field, and that’s refreshing to hear, instead she says merelythat she puts her feelings and experiences into words for all to enjoy. That she certainly does do.

She’ll inevitably be compared to others – an unfortunate thing we tend to do with British female singers – but some of the comparisons are justified and are indeed honourable. EP opener Take A Walk begins with ghostly vocals in a style of the wonderful Phildel and soon moves into Kate Nash territory. Yes, there are hints of other artists but that’s hard not to do when you’re sharing lifetime moments. The doctor’s surgery in the first track may be full and Jess may have been there for days, but if anyone was listening to this delightful EP, then the time would pass quickly.

Title track, Painted Faces is another wonderful piece of writing beginning with swirling piano and equally spiralling cymbals it soon moves forward into something slightly more sinister sounding with backing vocals that are both haunting and incredibly beautiful at the same time.

There’s something very special about Jess McAllister but it’s hard to pinpoint. She’s incredibly listenable and infectious and I’d challenge anyone to listen to the EP just once without feeling the uncontrollable desire to hit repeat. And again.

McAllister also invutes comparison with  Tori Amos and there is a definite nod in the direction of the very underrated Fiona Apple on third track Shadows In The Night. She has a voice which is capable of ripping a hole in the sky but equally capable of sewing it back together again with gentle precision, Jess is a talent waiting to make the big time.

Closing with Never Mind Buying Time, the all too short debut is over too soon. Sweeping violin and cheeky mandolin compliment a gripping cello and Jess’ simple girl-next-door voice. If I didn’t have to go to work tomorrow, I’d contemplate frequenting Plymouth pubs in the hope of stumbling across a talent like this – they don’t come along too often and we really should embrace them whilst they are here.


The Jess McAllister website is here. You can follow her on Twitter here and Facebook here.

All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found here. Paul’s website is hiapop Blog. Paul is working hard to save Radio Lancashire’s On The Wire, the BBCs longest running alternative music programme. Follow him on twitter as @saveonthewire for all On The Wire news or follow hiapop Blog on Twitter, @hiapop.

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