Personnel: Jess Klein (acoustic guitar, National guitar); Jess Klein (vocals, background vocals); Marc Copely (guitars, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, slide guitar, electric bass, tambourine, background vocals); Winston Roye (electric bass); John Clancy (drums, percussion).
Audio Mixer: Marc Copely.
Recording information: Copely Cabana, New York, NY; Joe Music, New York, NY.
Some artists show tremendous promise in the beginning but run out of creative steam a few albums down the line; they create high expectations and don't live up to them. Others, however, show a fair amount of promise on their early studio recordings and live performances -- imperfections and all -- and grow and develop as they go along. Jess Klein's potential as a singer/songwriter was evident when she recorded Wishes Well Disguised back in 1998, but she has really fine-tuned her skills since then -- and her growth as an artist is impossible to miss on 2006's City Garden. Klein has been quoted as saying that she listened to a lot of blues when she was recording City Garden, which is something that Marc Copely (who produced this album as well as 2005's Strawberry Lover) encouraged. Copely, according to Klein, encouraged her to seriously listen to blues masters like Howlin' Wolf, Junior Wells, and Buddy Guy -- and Klein evidently connected with the raw emotion in their work because there is plenty of blues feeling on rootsy offerings such as "World Could End" and "Holy Land." That is not to say that Klein did not express blues feeling on previous albums or that City Garden is full of Willie Dixon favorites; Klein wrote all of the songs herself, and none of them are blues in the strict sense. She still has a folk-rock/adult alternative focus, but the point is that all that exposure to the blues really helped her dig deep emotionally -- and certainly, things that have been inspiring her for a long time (folk, roots rock, soul) are still inspiring her on this 46-minute disc. City Garden is not a change of direction for Klein -- not at all -- but rather is a rewarding example of someone who has done a lot of artistic growing along the way and has a wealth of fine songs to show for it. ~ Alex Henderson
Q (p.112) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "Klein's unique selling point is the utter conviction resonating in her plaintive vocals..."
Dirty Linen (p.82) - "Klein's lyrics can be striking and odd, a fascinating record of an eccentric and self-aware mind."
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