Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Patrick Stolley
Proximity plays a large role in the undeniable appeal of Jessie Baylin and the songs on her major label debut, Firesight. It is a proximity to her personally and an indirect closeness to those people she so passionately gives over to us in these terribly humble and smashing love songs. Granted, they're better when the love is coming to her like pulling teeth or it's just barely outside of the reach of whomever is doing it. The hands of time are watched and debated when these loves are bobbing up and down in her waters, off the shore and in the part of the body of water where no one is for sure how deep it is out there. The next step could sink your head under, gasping for breath and trying to propel yourself back up to the surface for more of that air that you've discovered that you can't live without.
These loves that she can't live without - this loneliness that can be just as romantic in retrospect - are bashful delicacies that are forbidden fruit - that is until they actually materialize. Baylin, to hear her sing about it, has survived many of these horrific search missions and many of these dark and gloomy transgressions of having nobody to keep her warm. When someone lets you hear about those things, getting too much closer to them takes some willpower and some brainstorming.
It's those situations - listening to Firesight - that have manufactured more than an obscene number of man-woman relationships that have felt intimate, but are really just a girl getting some things off her chest, getting her feelings heard by a guy she's come to trust and enjoy watching movies with. He's just a friend who listens. He doesn't know that yet. He'll find out the gruesome truth when he least expects it. She has no intention of ever being more than friends. That intense dynamic of being as close to a person as possible, but still occupying a relationship that is still only borderline platonic is how Baylin - the striking Tennessee girl-by way of New Jersey and Los Angeles - gets you on the end of her line.
She smells fantastic too - like flowers and dew and fresh fruits (real fruit, not concentrate and nothing cooked up in a lab by smart ass dudes and dudettes in goggles) - which doesn't help in distracting anyone from getting caught in her earthy, jazzy, drinking beer and looking at funny GI Joe public service announcements on the Internet with her friends web. She's the most potent adhesive on the market, or one of them, and she's able to make you sink like a brick, right into her midst, plunging through the air and breaking through ceilings - a different version of that Justin Timberlake commercial where the pop singer's pulled invisibly by the suction of one fan's bendy straw.
The most glaring attraction to Baylin is her model looks, but on last count, there were millions and millions of pretty faces that can't for the life of the carry a tune or write a song that shouldn't just be chewed up by the family dog and crapped out in the yard. Her ability to write a song that can stand alone if she were to be completely masked is the secret weapon and her most dangerous quality. She writes songs that make you start to envision what the inside of her heart must look like. We'll picture it as a bungalow with a real homey touch. There's probably not a thing out of place - the rugs have been beaten and the pillows on the couch are crooked in the most specific decorative way. There are cookies or fresh bread cooking somewhere in the kitchen, fresh-cut flowers are trying to stay mostly alive and pretty in a vase on the mantle and the drapes are extremely fashionable and possibly recommended in Dwell last month. It's a place that she's anxious for people to see. She's got her one special guest already picked out now, but she still gives tours between the hours of day and night - no appointment needed.
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