If a record’s success is measured by how long it stays on repeat, Jess DeLuca’s Nightingale EP is a runaway success. It’s been on my daily playlist since it was released last Friday. It’s warm and inoffensive, a fine debut for a songwriter who is rooted in the country music tradition. But I can’t help but think: is that all it is?
The whole EP is a fine example of country folk. It’s the kind of EP where you just sit back and relax. The guitars chime, the drums are laid-back. And the vocals are equally chill. DeLuca has a cool, effortless delivery. It’s a great arrangement and with great character. It’s the latest incarnation of a long legacy that DeLuca fully embraces.
‘Lucifer’ is the lead single, and the first track. It sets the tone for the rest of the EP. It’s the song for a lover with a bad reputation, a devil who is “the shining one.” There’s a rebellious streak running through the lyrics, with shades of Kacey Musgraves. And I like it. It’s one of the subtle ways that DeLuca creates her voice as an artist.
‘Might You Have Me To Call Your Own’ is a good listen for any wannabe songwriters. It’s a great song because it’s symbolic: “Fifteen years of ideas of you and I / Gone with your goodbye.” Such a vivid picture: Neat. The dynamics stand out here as well. It swells to a critical mass, and then completely stops at least three times. A very pleasant listen.
‘Bittersweet’ is described in one word: brushes. The drummer brushes the top of the snare, adding a gorgeous hiss under the track (you’ll notice it when you listen for it, trust me). It feels so warm and fuzzy. I had to love it. DeLuca shows fantastic voice control too. She makes hitting every note sound effortless. It’s a great song for a cold January evening.
‘Sinking In’ is a track about moving on, reflecting on questions left unanswered by a relationship. This was my personal favourite on the record. There’s a healthy amount of guitar and honesty. It’s bound to be a winner in my book. The beat has a great sway as well, like a car on the road. A nice track.
‘Woods’ is the least conventional of the five tracks. Guitars whisper in the background, cymbals swell suddenly. There’s a restraint in the track which gives it an intimacy. It’s a nice way to wind down.
I have to admit, I can’t say much else about Jess DeLuca. And that’s my biggest criticism: it only does one thing. I could predict what was coming up after Track 1. It’s very good at what it does, but I’m left wishing for something else. A curveball. Maybe that was intentional, maybe that’s just how it came to be. Despite that, I’ll keep an eye on Jess DeLuca. It’s a polished debut which has a safe spot on my ‘Work’ playlist, but next time I’d like to see a curveball.
Jess DeLuca’s Nightingale EP is out now – available to Stream/Purchase here.