“Witchy melancholic space rock” is what the Finnish band Jess By The Lake promise to deliver. For me, the whole package is great, but it’s all about the voice of Jasmin Saarela – powerful, soulful, perfect.
That voice! It literally hooked me the instant the vocal comes in on opening track, Under the Red Light Shine. There is definitely a lot to like about the music, but it’s hard to give it my full attention with the voice being the obvious focus.
Even when the band ups the anti musically on Freezing Burn, with some exceptional piano and guitar work that really lifts the track and adds depth, I’m still fully distracted by the vocals. They are THAT great.
There’s no doubt that Jess By The Lake is a rock band at their core, but there is so much else going on stylistically. Folky, melodic, soulful and emotive. It’s a far cry from your standard beer drenched rock n roll. Take a listen to The Wait for a good example, but you’ll simply marvel at a track like Halo (Ghosts in the Flames). It has the least in common with standard rock, but proves to be a highlight – a slow burner that builds its way to a beautiful and grandiose climax. Have I mentioned the voice?!
Nightmare really brings the rhythm section to life, particularly in the drumming, and It’s a far more lively track for it. The band really work together as a whole here, and although the vocals are still stunning, it’s not the focus for me.
Legacy Crown is vast and makes use of its full seven minutes, as it meanders along – it’s more about what they don’t do, than what they do. There’s plenty to listen to, but every sound is used to bolster the track, rather than just fill up space. My Hands is groovy and sultry – another highlight.
To close the album, we have the nine minute, Interstellar – and it is truly epic. Driven by beautiful guitar, and of course the voice. It’s immaculate from start to finish, and never feels too long. It’s the perfect way to finish a near perfect album.
I literally stumbled across this album by accident, and I’m glad that I did. A few listens in, and I’m still discovering more to be heard. Under The Red Light Shine is quite possibly a contender to any end of year top 10 list that I may put together.
Review by Shayne McGowan