(25 June 2013) New York-based singer songwriter Jillette Johnson released her first full length album today and entitled Water in a Whale (Wind-Up Records (USA) 13329, 2013). The fourteen track collection follows on from the successful 2012 EP Whiskey & Frosting. The EP was also published free of charge via a NoiseTrade earlier this year. We caught up with Jillette earlier this month to explore her background and learn more about the new album. Be sure to check out our interview with Jillette.
Enthusiasts will find that the album includes the five tracks from the EP as well as nine new recordings. The extremely well-produced and highly accessible album has a running time of almost 50 minutes. It has been in constant rotation for several weeks at Musical Discoveries headquarters. Listeners will hear lushly-arranged multi-layered pop numbers, stripped-back singer-songwriter styled ballads and two B-sides on Jillette's new album.
The upbeat and exquisitely produced "Torpedo" is an upbeat heavily layered pop rock number. Jillette's powerful lead is backed with lovely harmonies and a powerful rhythm section underscores the thick keyboard parts. The album features two versions of the especially expressive track "Cameron." In addition to the fully-produced arrangement found on the EP complete with strings and robust percussion, a stripped version is included as a bonus track. Jillette told us that the catchy piano-laced song will be a focus in her summer radio campaign.
Arrangements that build on a piano-based ballad with the singer's power in "When The Ship Goes Down" further demonstrates the Jillette's songwriting chops. Evocative vocal arrangements and stylistic variations incorporating strings and piano in "Flood The Ocean" further builds interest in the album. We especially appreciated the verse chorus tension build and release in the pop track "Last Bus Out."
Clearly the gentlest and most sensual track of Jillette's album and earlier EP is "Pauvre Coeur." Listen to the clarity of the artist's powerful vocal aginst the light piano. Two further ballads, the bluesy "Basett Hound" and percussively catchy "Butterfly Catcher" also grace this new record.
In the standout radio-friendly track "Peter Pan," Jillette's lead is perfectly balanced by self-harmony vocals and stunning pop arrangements. "Heathen" is an equally accessible number, with lead vocals pushed way up, this time above guitar-based arrangements and rich harmonies. The album's main set concludes with the piano ballad "True North" which was written about Jillette finding her own voice. Listen to the tremendous power of the vocal work and for the album title within the lyrical content.
The first B-side is "17" a lovely piano and keyboard based ballad with arrangements that build as the song develops. Sung solo without backing harmonies, it is delightful and provides an entirely different view of the artist's vocal talent. "Box of Crayons" is an upbeat love song with the most accessible pop arrangements. Listen for the very quiet backing vocals alongside the great instrumentals that build up further in the chorus.
She gave up a contenstent slot on The Voice to make it. Jillette Johnson's stunning full length album
Water in a Whale has clearly demonstrated
her exceptional gift and we certainly hope that she continues to use it wisely.