Personnel: Jessie Baylin (vocals).
Audio Mixer: Richard Swift.
Recording information: National Freedom, Cottage Grove, OR.
Arranger: Richard Swift.
Since releasing her sophomore album, 2008's Firesight, New Jersey-born singer/songwriter Jessie Baylin married Kings of Leon drummer Nathan Followill, gave birth to a daughter, and found her sound transforming from a contemporary, folk-inflected style to a moody, darkly atmospheric vibe. All of which informs her fourth solo album, 2015's somewhat ironically titled Dark Place. While Baylin certainly delves further into a shadowy, vintage-inspired mix of '60s psych and blues pop on Dark Place, there's also plenty of buoyant melodicism and poignant lyrical content on many of the songs here, which often speak to Baylin's love of motherhood, and her contentment in her relationship (she dedicated the album to her daughter). Produced by Richard Swift (Damien Jurado, Laetitia Sadier), who previously supplied arrangements for Baylin's 2012 album, Little Spark, Dark Place builds nicely upon that earlier collaboration, with Swift framing Baylin's soulful voice in swaths of icy synths, thick, watery bass, and fuzzy, dissolving guitars. It's an enigmatic style that strikes both a contemporary and a retro-leaning balance between the echo-chamber style of Richard Hawley and the earthy British soul of Dusty Springfield. To these ends, cuts like the lilting "Black Blood" and the piano-driven "London Time," sound something like Harry Nilsson songs played underwater. Similarly, the languid "To Hell and Back" and the woody title track have a deftly simplistic, lullaby quality that, as with much of Dark Place, illustrates the joy Baylin clearly takes in being a mother, and the depth of feeling the experience has brought into her life. ~ Matt Collar