Essie Jain We Made This Ourselves

[Ba Da Bing; 2007]

Rating: 2.5/5

Styles: glum and un-fun singer-songwriter
Others: Nina Nastasia, Cat Power, Will Oldham

Essie Jain has come to New York from London and made this album. If you doubt that, refer to the title of the album (I have the press sheet to rely on). There is nothing much here that you, the listener, really need to be alerted to, however. This is a garden-variety affair -- no hybrid species sprouting out from the Michelin tire planter, but there may be some points of interest for you green thumbs out there.

Some of this album’s most magnificent moments are cases of instruments barely played -- the French horn on “Haze,” the pump of an accordion on “Talking,” the lonesome cowpoke harmonica buzzing in and out of “Disgrace." Why? These flairs distract you from Essie Jain’s performance. She seems unsure of what she wants to, or can, offer us, and unfortunately lacks the ability to snag an audience and demand doting attention.

What it boils down to, when the substance evaporates and the dust remains, is another album of quietly sung odes to life’s irrepressible woes, an arts-and-crafts pair of butterflies on an album cover, and a soft black and white photograph of the attractive female singer, working her wiles once and awhile. This is the precise reason why people put Joanna Newsom on a pedestal with stilts.

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