Jess Bryant – New Album Silvern is a Box of Loveliness, By Mike Hughes

Photo property of Mike Hughes, all rights reserved.

Jess Bryant is someone I first came across in London, playing on a boat 200 metres in a straight line from where I lived. I saw her twice in quick succession and then a few times after that, but that first time, she announced with all seriousness (and she can be serious) that this was the end of acoustic Jess. From here on in it was electric all the way in, with her newly formed band. That was June 2010. Even way back then, I’m pretty certain that her album Silvern was pretty much laid down, or at least a long way into development.

Time passed until in 2011 I was lucky enough to get early access to that Silvern album. I listened to it. A lot. For months and months. It’s a brilliant box of loveliness. Jess sensibly took her time finding the right way to get the record out there, pairing up with Red Deer Club Records in Manchester. This is a good move – RDC were there at the right stage with Stealing Sheep, they are skilled at that magyck art of spotting what will and won’t be.

I put out my review, of Silvern on God Is In The TV. The rest of the press (at least what I’ve read) appears to agree with me and be just as positive about what is a fairly unusual record in this day and age.

Photo property of Mike Hughes, all rights reserved.

Seeing as I no longer live in that-there London, the Manchester connection proved fortuitous, as Jess and the band decided to have a record launch gig up here. It gets better, as they capitalized on being up north to play another couple of shows over the weekend; in the end I made it to two out of three.

To deal with last things first, the second one was a Sunday all-dayer at the so-hip-it-hurts Mello Mello in Liverpool. It was good, but was necessarily a shorter set, not their event, and took the sound guy two or three songs to get dialed. So we’ll concentrate on the Friday night. This was of Jess’s own showcase, full five piece band, and the tea shop / bar warmed up by two rather good local supports. The venue was nicely full, with people hanging over the balcony and spilling down the stairs – it’s a tea shop with an upper level, a sort of oriel.

We’d chatted with the guys beforehand, and they seemed nicely relaxed, even to the extent that Jess seemed to be doing a bit of last minute texting. The band have been together for a while, and it showed in their comfort dealing with Jess’s on the fly decisions as to what to play next – no set list in sight.

The record, while a thing of undoubted beauty, has an emphatic production which concentrates on, and makes a virtue of, the pairing of Jess’s vocal and the repeated motif of the percussion. It’s not a bad thing, far from it: pick a theme and stick with it. The difference in tonight’s live setting was that the whole affair was much more immersive, gentler and even more subtle in tone than an already pretty subtle record. I guess the reason is self -evident, we were joint inhabitants of the same small workspace rather being the fourth wall of the theatre stage set. The affect was somehow like being stuck inside the same a bag of feathers and pieces of foam. Overall, the charming triumph we had hoped would happen on “launch night mark one” (they were about to repeat the experience a week later, with a bigger crowd, in Islington).

For more of Mike Hughes’ fantastic photos of Jess Bryant, please visit his excellent website, Catshoe.org.

Purchase the record here:

http://www.reddeerclub.co.uk/shop/releases/silvern/

Mike Hughes

Here’s a video of “Cutting,” a great track to start on:

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