After Essie Jain’s debut album attracted a handful of complimentary comparison’s to ’60s/’70s singer-songwriters, including Vashti Bunyan, Joan Baez and even Joni Mitchell, many alt-folk fans may be excited to hear her second offering. But they may well be disappointed. The Londonraised singer now resides in New York, and it seems that the self-indulgent nature of the jazz cafÃ© scene has made its mark.
Jain’s breathy, strained and desperate vocals are, on their own, quite appealing, but her clumsily confessional lyrics often let the album down. At times it’s whiney and banal: on -Not Yours’, she declares that ‘This is my life not yours/ You take it away from me, but I’ll take it back from you’. Such triteness detracts from the delicate and minimal use of guitar, piano, strings and the occasional soft hum of brass. There are, however, a few moments of lyrical sparkle. On standout track -Eavesdrop’, an aching piano part and country violins provide the canvas on which Jain paints her sorrow: ‘I am not a house upon your land’.
Although mostly intimate and haunting, there are a few more up-tempo tracks on The Inbetween. On -Please’, she explores her vocal range and -The Rights’ displays leanings to the dark pixie-like quality of Kate Bush. But there is something missing here, something that makes Jain more of a copycat than an inspirational new female folkster.