[26 February 2007]
Autumn Shade’s Ezra Moon, songwriter and classically trained pianist Jes Lenee’s second full-length album, is an extraordinary mix of folk, rock and classical influences, the songs minimally couched and passionately sung against a backdrop of piano and violin. Lenee has a hushed childlike voice, which, at times, can flare up into a passionate banshee wail. She can sound a little like Lisa Germano, that is, cool and lovely and crazily intense, yet the musical backing sets her apart. Listen to how ripples and waves of cascading piano play tag with stern, 20th century classical violin tones in the title track, and how Lenee’s voice darts in and out of complexity, like bird’s song magically woven into a string quartet sonata. She is nakedly vulnerable in the melancholy “Lilacgrass”, soft notes worn, bent, even broken, by the sheer emotional heft of the piece. There’s a touch of Appalachian vibrato here, a hint of blues-born wildness that gives the song a jolt. But Lenee is no primitive, the song ends in a precise gavotte of piano, as civilized and complex as the verse was raw and real.