Kindred ( 2010, produced by Darwin Smith)
Sounds, distortions, instrumental overlays aside, Kindred showcases a multifaceted songwriter with a soothing, melodious voice. Jenny Gillespie was meant to sing; her aim is perhaps best sung in the last track “Hearts For Eyes”: “I wanted to give you one small part of myself.” And, it never hurts to space out for an hour or so– grab your sketch pad, some tissues, or your favorite afghan, lay on the floor, and give this one a spin. Close your eyes and imagine you are flying, this is a dream after all.
- The Blue Indian
“Swimming in Amber” could have been smuggled straight out of Joni Mitchell’s pre-Court and Spark studio tapes leavened with touches of Hejira, forlorn lap steel keening in the background as Gillespie enchants. In the Garden strides into a tinkly electronic-based mode, a more crystalline reprise of Amber, also building and opening into larger contexts. ‘Gentle’ may be the term that best describe’s Gillespie’s music—a trait that doesn’t rob her of vitality, though. On her previous album Light Year I noted the Tori Amos and Annie Lennox kindredness; this time, I detect more of Kate Bush. Next time…well, we can all sit blissed out and wait to see, ‘cause Kindred guarantees that there will be a next time.
- Folk and Music Exchange
“The lyrics are allusive, rather than direct. The combined effect of the musical arrangements and the lyrics gives the listener a template to use to fill in the details of what the songs are about. So my discussion of the lyrics may surprise Jenny Gillespie, and may not be what you hear in them either. Much is left to the listener, and this sort of thing must be done well, or it falls apart completely. It is done very well here. I am drawn most to the songs that feature the organic instruments, and I have chosen two of these to post. Swimming in Amber has an arrangement built around the acoustic guitar, and this is a breakup song. Gillespie’s vocal here conveys sorrow and loneliness, but also love remembered during the flashback sections. Merged Furs, on the other hand, takes place at the beginning of a relationship, and finds Gillespie determined to make this work, but also a bit anxious. Throughout, Gillespie’s words and her vocals present emotions as complicated; these are songs about adult relationships, not simple crushes. In Gillespie’s world, emotional states are often reflected in the world around her, so nature images abound. Secret Passageway has “a deer who’s nibbled on glass”, while Dance or Disappear has a tidal pool with rocks jutting from it as the tide goes out. Each lyric is a poem to be pondered, with meanings that might well change as the reader goes through life. And the musical arrangements enhance this beautifully.”
- Oliver Di Place
With good music, I am always finding out, time is not of the essence and I slipped into the ooze of what others termed “shoegaze” and have since refused to leave the hot tub. Her voice is floating and ethereal on most tracks, the music smooth and relaxing. The Wurlitzer helps (for those who are unaware, the Wurlitzer piano is an instrument of incredible beauty when used properly) as does the production. Gillespie stays just far enough from formula to make the album listen worthy and close enough to make you feel at home.
- Indie Musicology
Light Year ( 2009, produced by Jenny Gillespie)
There’s an air of gorgeous melancholy to music of Jenny Gillespie, with Light Year offering eight mesmerizing melodies. The talented singer/songwriter channels Sinead O’Connor on “Hydra,” offering a heartbreaking voice complemented by stark piano, even as tunes like “New Maze” and “Hummingbirds” at times recall such legendary folksingers as Judy Collins and Joni Mitchell. It’s coffeehouse music that’s ready for the big time.
- Illinois Entertainer
Chicago-based singer-songwriter Jenny Gillespie’s follow up to her 2004 EP Love and Ammunition is the floating, piano driven Light Year. Like a Joni Mitchell record, it’s filled with delicate piano melodies and non-standard guitar tunings giving the songs a slightly off-kilter sound. Still, she manages to make the eight songs work, tying them together with her gliding vocals that can jump from nearly spoken to ethereal.
- Uncommon Music
“Light Year displays much potential. It stands firmly as a solid testament to the natural talent of its creator, but even more so as the early imprint of a prepatent artist who could generate waves around the songwriting community in the years to come.”
- Fig and Mint
“Light Year evokes Day-Glo imagery and idyllic settings, pondered ever so sweetly through poetry and prose. She graces these fragile soundscapes with subtlety and flair, utilizing primarily piano and acoustic guitar, which are then tastefully embellished by bells, accordion, cello, fiddle, mandolin and pedal steel. Yet despite the richness of the arrangements, the songs never feel over-indulgent, radiating instead a shimmer, sparkle and gentle sway that’s ever so beautiful and beguiling. In fact, the entire set is so unerringly mesmerizing, it’s a challenge to distinguish a single standout, although “Vanishing Point,” “Littleblood,” and “Hummingbirds” certainly vie for that distinction. However, with the songs maintaining such low wattage, it may also be necessary to submit to more than a cursory listening – in fact, several may be required before true seduction sets in. Yet be assured that once its given those repeated encounters, Light Year will shine that much stronger.”
- Eat Drink Sleep Music
“The album is short, but in a way similar to Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago, it works best that way. Light Year is strong from start to finish, presenting the listener with a blend of dark and light material, giving her audience just the right amount of breathing room from the dark moments that we become so absorbed in.”
- Tandem Shop
Belita ( 2012, produced by Jenny Gillespie and Shahzad Ismaily)
An embodiment of the hard working Chicago attitude, Jenny Gillespie has been as busy as any musician over the past few years. After producing her first two albums Light Year (2009) and Kindred (2010), Gillespie’s newest EP Belita sees the singer/songwriter return to the roots she honed at Chicago’s Old Town School of Music. Creating a minimalist sound, Gillespie’s world music roots are apparent with the various melodies she strums from her acoustic guitar. Layered on top of rich vocals, Gillespie’s folk rock sound draws from many genres and brings a fresh approach to folk rock.
Read more: Chicago Singer/Songwriter Jenny Gillespie’s, ‘Belita’ EP [Free Downloads] http://wxrt.radio.com/2012/04/11/chicago-singersongwriter-jenny-gillespie-belita-ep-free-downloads/#ixzz1wUL3Yta8
- WXRT Radio, Chicago
Acoustic guitar. Clever fingerpicking in accordance to the verses. Electronic instruments: spacy. Drifting ambience…melodic vocals. This woman can sing! The musicians can play and together they are incredible. She sings like she was born to sing.
This EP stands on its own. It sets a new standard and is technically brilliant. Jenny’s versatile style and ambient voice has wisps of Tori Amos and the likes of Joni Mitchell –but she has carved her own name with Belita. Generously proportioned progressive folk-indie with a delicate hint of classical and pop -minus the cheese.
Creature of our make spirited adjectives weave itself throughout this powerful composition. The strings show subtle repetitiveness, which serves as a bass line. This song borders on indie, folk and then there are the vocals, evocative and as flexible as a yoga instructor’s body! Evokes a dusty Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young memory. Simple and complex in structure. And style! Another fabulous track is Wooden bench. A folky, airy, light as a breeze piece but showing a depth of words and analogies that positively blow your mind.! Vaguely melodic and justifiably so with the right amount of instrumental influx to remind you that Jenny’s EP is an intentional reminder of its core roots. She bares her fears with humility and grace. I strongly recommend listening to her. Cheating Gong ethereal multiple stringed instruments, a subtle bass and Jenny’s vocals fly, float and enter and pause whilst the musicians whip as into a gentle frenzy. I don’t feel cheated by listening to this song. It’s a treat. Her vocals are cool and warm at interchangeable moments leading you through flashes of love, leaving and memory.
- Somojo Magazine
Filled to bursting with haunting vocals, soft, relaxing melodies and an atmosphere that can make one feel like they’re daydreaming, Belita has a little of everything for the easy listener. It’s sort of pleasant to listen to, and sort of not as well; one finds that it can induce a daydream just by listening to it but when one is trying to concentrate this can be really distracting. One finds themselves listening to it intently, then a minute later realises that they are staring into space and not concentrating on anything. It’s really very soothing.
In other words, it’s the sort of music that one might put on as background noise to another task, and then find themselves minutes later listening to it intently without even noticing – it just can’t be helped. This is a good aspect of the album, the idea that one would ‘realise’ that they are actually really enjoying listening to it. It just has to be given that first initial chance. Gillespie has clearly poured her heart and soul into this album, though, and this makes it doubly pleasant to listen to.
Musically, it’s well put together, a unique twist on traditional folk music, and therefore progressive. Gillespie obviously has talent when it comes to writing unique music. It’s a massive break from musical tradition, something very calming. The mix of all the slow, melodic instruments coupled with the vocals creates a sort of ‘field’ of relaxation around the listener. Vocally, Gillespie’s haunting, high pitched tones add to the atmospheric sensuality, but not in a spine-chilling way. Despite the fact her vocals echo and float in an almost eerie way, the resulting sound, when mixed with the music, isn’t unnerving at all, in fact the music and vocals complement each other extremely well.
The only issue with the album is that it might not appeal to a wide audience, being so unique and progressive. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the music itself, but a listener must begin listening to this album with an open mind in order to fully enjoy it. This might limit the audience that Gillespie manages to reach, it might be too specific. The uniqueness and oddity of the music might be its downfall in the long term. However, that’s obviously no reason to compromise on the sound, though, just to make it popular and Gillespie clearly knows that.
Overall, then, it’s a very enjoyable, sensual listen, if a little targeted and unique. As mentioned before, it’s the kind of music one would put on in the background whilst doing something else, and then realising a few minutes later that they can’t help but listen to it. This is an amazing achievement, and if the listener gives the music even the smallest chance to appeal to them, they’d immediately find themselves hooked.
- Popped Culture UK
Overall, Belita is coloured by restraint. It is pretty, graceful, full of imagination. The EP opens with a vocal duet featuring Sam Amidon in a collaboration that grew from a spark when he heard Gillespie covering one of his songs. The wispy harmonies they touch on are reminiscent of the melancholic musings of Tazio & Boy, but with an underlying strength that is constantly tempered. It is not until the chorus that Gillespie’s trademark whimsical pop-punctuated vocals really come into their own and the quality of her voice becomes apparent.
- Drowned in Sound
After dabbling with various musical sounds on her two previously self released albums, Chicago chanteuse, Jenny Gillespie has once again changed direction with her new EP Belita. Collaborating with Shazad Ismaily who is best known for his work with Bonnie Prince Billy and Lou Reed as a multi-instrumentalist, Gillespie has created an EP that flirts with various sounds to create a lush atmosphere on record. The creaking finger picked guitars and the silky and almost spidery whispered vocals nod towards the late great Elliot Smith. The influences of Joni Mitchell and Emmylou Harris are certainly apparent in this record’s beautiful construction but if you think this is a standard folk record you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The elements of piano and electric guitar on Sunshine Blood make it ever so exquisite to the ears. And the subtle use of strings in closing track Cheating Gong makes it an ever so sweet way for this extended player to end.
Unique is perhaps the best description for Belita, the layers of sound are carefully laid upon each other in a near shoe gaze or post rock style so as not to overpower Gillespie’s stunning voice. At times you can feel the rawness and honesty ingrained into the verses. As folk and singer songwriter genres seem to be forever popular, it is nice to see to see it being refreshed with a minimal and back to basic approach.
With a voice as truly enchanting as Jenny Gillespie’s, this EP frames the soundscapes she has created perfectly.
- Room Thirteen