English Poet and Hymnodist William Cowper once wrote, “Variety is the very spice of life. That gives it all its flavor,” and he could not be more right. A factor of that makes us who we are, it also teaches us to free our minds from the constraints of narrow thinking, and to never, ever judge a book by its cover. In truth, we should never box anyone in a corner, and talented Singer-Songwriter Jessy Wilson is living proof.
Raised in the cultural melting pot that is Brooklyn, New York, Wilson grew up with a diverse pallet of music around her; from classic R&B/Soul to Hip Hop, Rock, and everything in between. Seeing her horizon expanded even wider, she would eventually relocate to America’s music city, Nashville, allowing her to explore Blues, Country, and Roots music, acting as a building block to help form her future self.
Looking back more in-depth, early on, Wilson sang Off Broadway, thus paving the way for her stint singing background for platinum-selling Recording Artist Alicia Keys, and later writing songs with John Legend. Taking in the experience of touring the world with Alicia Keys and having John Legend as a mentor, Wilson would soon go on to co-found her own band called Muddy Magnolias. A partnership with Kallie North, the band magically melded various styles with their debut LP, Broken People, in 2016, all while sharing the stage with the likes of Gary Clark Jr., Grace Potter, Zac Brown Band, and Kid Rock along the way. A exciting part in Wilson’s story, now after years of work, she anxiously launches the next chapter, her solo career.
Judging by her eclectic past, one might wonder what exactly Jessy Wilson the solo artist is all about. Well, that is not exactly an easy question to answer, because there is so much that has led her to this point. A student of real life experience, she has rubbed elbows with some of the music scene’s best talents, and the years of work have not been in vain. Intelligent and intuitive, Wilson acquired a sea of knowledge, but instead of becoming an off-shoot of various apprenticeships, she has wholly become her own.
A sweet syrupy voice, with the ability to add grit when needed, however, the true bread and butter of Wilson is the songwriting. An aspect of her game she has developed nicely, it all comes together on her debut solo album, fittingly titled Phase. Produced by The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney, and released on May 3, 2019, Phase is accumulation of Wilson’s past, her present, and who she will be in the future. In her own words, she states, “In a way, like Dylan or Picasso, I feel like I’m going through these different phases as an artist, that’s what inspired the title, Phase. This album fills the gap between everything I’ve been and everything I’m becoming. It’s the piece that’s been missing.”
Beautiful articulated, the album features songs with R&B flavor, fuzzy guitars, soulful vocal deliveries, and is just the shot of life needed in a time of nondescript music. Straying from the norms, the songs that make up Phase are lively pieces of artwork that are brought together with insightful lyrics and careful instrumentation.
Planning to hit the road with Ben Harper in August, and The Black Keys come October, 2019 is a breakout year for Wilson. Seasoned beyond her years and ready for the spotlight, it is her time. That said, without handicapping Jessy Wilson with mere comparisons, the best way to describe her sound is something old, something new, but something that immediately draws attention.