Blog

JESSICA LYNN – AMERICA’S NEXT SHANIA?

jessicaDSC_0282

Pic by Scott Vincent

 

Australian Musician’s Greg Phillips¬† tracked down USA singer, songwriter, musician, and arranger Jessica Lynn to discuss how she has created such a large and enthusiastic fanbase without having released a single studio recording.

The momentum at which New York-based, country rock artist Jessica Lynn’s music career is moving, it would seem to be unstoppable. In just the last year, Jessica has played on the bill with some of country music’s hottest acts such as Brad Paisley and Lady Antebellum at major country music festivals, sung the national anthem at Madison Square Garden, amassed a legion of social media fans, recorded two elaborate, national American television specials, one which has aired to great success and one to follow in the US on April 19th this year. All of this before she has even released a studio single. That final piece of the puzzle is being attended to now as she’s recording her debut album in New York, with a release planned for early June.

Jessica-Lynn---Takin'-Over-Promo-Pic-WebSo why, how and where did it all begin for Jessica? The fact that her parents are not only musically minded but also play in her band tells you a lot. Jessica’s dad plays bass in the band and her mum is a backing singer. Jessica was encouraged at an early age to play piano, which not only led to a love of music but was also the genesis of the determined and independent artist she has become today. “I started on the piano with formal lessons in elementary school,” Jessica explains. “I only took them for three years or so because my teacher would get upset with me. After I learned the basics I would come in with Billy Joel and Queen music and wanting to learn that stuff. So she said, I cant go any further with you if you don’t want to learn the ‘real’ piano, I guess you can call it. I started composing my own songs and I’d bring them in and my lessons pretty much turned into her just listening to what I had written that week as I was so excited about it.”

Jessica Lynn began performing professionally at the age of fourteen with her first band, playing pop, rock tunes and doing Kelly Clarkson and Avril Lavigne covers. Even then she was writing country music songs, her first love but those tunes never saw the light of day as they didn’t suit the repertoire of the band she was playing with. She cut her teeth playing local fairs and small clubs in Manhattan, constantly developing her stage craft and songwriting skills. The accumulation of her fan base has been steady and organic but to the public eye, it may seem more meteoric. The fact that Jessica has been able to present two national television specials before releasing a studio recording may seem unusual but perhaps it’s also indicative of the changing times for the music industry.
“It’s very unusual,” Jessica agrees. “We were laughing about it the other day. It was like, look at everything we’ve done without a single, this is crazy. I guess television works in the same way. Music today is so visual. A lot of people listen more with their eyes then their ears I think. The fact that we’ve been able to have a concert special which went nationwide, people were hearing us that way. It’s just a different way of doing it, a unique way.”

Pic by Steve Sterlacci

Pic by Steve Sterlacci

Apart from playing piano, Jessica also plays guitar and drums and writes and arranges her own music. Her first guitar was an Ibanez Roadster, gifted by her father. She now has guitar companies lining up with endorsement deals and can be seen on her YouTube channel presenting guitar demos. One of the first guitar companies to jump onboard with Jessica was Daisy Rock, who make guitars specifically for girls. “We were in a Battle of the Bands when I was 15,” she recalls of the days when she played a Daisy Rock guitar. “We would show up to venues and I would pull out my little heart shaped guitar from its purple case and I remember at one gig, all of the guys in a neighbouring band waiting to set up their stuff, were all snickering at me. Then we beat them and I was so, so happy.”

Now Jessica has a close association with both the D’Angelico and Santo brand of guitars. “We work with D’Angelico guitars who are based here in New York, so it’s like two New York businesses helping each other,” says Jessica. “The white guitar I play is from them and they have just gifted me a beautiful cherryburst acoustic which is now my favourite. We also work with a company called Santo guitars USA, they make custom built stuff in Telecaster style. I have one that they etched my name into.”

Her white D’Angelico EX-SD is a single cutaway, solid body Les Paul style with mahogany body and neck and rosewood fingerboard with Kent Armstrong humbuckers. Her D’Angelico cherryburst acoustic is an SD500 Bowery dreadnought model with solid sitka spruce top, rosewood back, sides and neck. Jessica’s signature Santo electric is a USA Custom Tonecaster 316 and features a one piece swamp ash body, rosewood fingerboard, locking tuners, GFS Crunchy PAT humbuckers with her signature engraved in it.

In January Jessica attended her second NAMM show, where she performed at the D’Angelico booth and also a prime Saturday night spot on the Hilton stage. It was an experience she enjoyed immensely. “First, it’s great to see face to face all of the people that you talk to all the time at the guitar companies,” she says.¬† “And then it’s cool to meet other musicians and play for other musicians because at a show like NAMM it’s so cool, you get appreciated in a different way. They know the work that goes in to putting a show together and learning an instrument. It’s a totally different kind of feeling that you get.”

Currently Jessica is recording her long awaited debut album in New York, on which she plays some rhythm guitar parts. The album, yet to be named, will feature a mix of country, rock and there’s a ballad too which she is particularly proud of. “There is one song on the album which is the only power ballad on there and it’s called Not Half Bad,” she explains. “You can see it in the television special. That song I wrote when I was sixteen years old, when I was doing all the pop rock stuff. I had broken up with my high school boyfriend and it was devastating at the time. That song came out of nowhere and I couldn’t play it for so long because I tried it with the band and it did not work. We were doing all this rock stuff then I had this country ballad, so I shelved it. We pulled it out for the TV special and now for the album, so it was a long time coming.”

Next up for Jessica Lynn is the airing of her second PBS TV special ‘Takin’ Over – Live at The Paramount’ on April 19th, followed by the completion of her debut album, due out in early June. Jessica will then hit the road for a national tour which will see her play a couple of dates with Keith Urban during the American summer. While she is an unknown in Australia, it stands to reason that the Jessica Lynn juggernaut will soon filter down to this part of the world too.

http://www.jessicalynnmusic.org

Jessica’s ‘Takin’ Over – Live at The Paramount’ promo

Jessica’s D’Angelico EX-SD review

Tagged