Essie Jain; Paul Mahajan; Emery Dobyns; Teddy Kumpel; Robert Dipietro
Essie Jain; Essie Jain
Ba Da Bing Records
Number of Discs
Album Notes and Credits
Personnel: Essie Jain (vocals, acoustic guitar, piano); Essie Jain (bass guitar); Caleb Burhans (violin, viola); Robert Jost (accordion, French horn, bass instrument); Dave Horton (bass guitar); Robert Di Pietro (drums, percussion); Jim White (drums).
Audio Mixer: Paul Mahajan.
Recording information: Dubway Studios, New York, NY; Headgear Studios, Brooklyn, NY; Monsterland Studios, Brooklyn, NY.
The debut album by expatriate Londoner Essie Jain (now living in New York) has the intimacy and rustic feel of a certain strain of singer/songwriters from the late '60s and early '70s: Linda Perhacs, Vashti Bunyan, Shelagh McDonald, and even a bit of Nick Drake are all accurate touchstones for alt-folk hipsters. The album is not quite entirely solo, but other instruments are added to Jain's vocals, acoustic guitar and piano so sparingly that it might as well be. This puts all of the focus on Jain, which is both a good and bad thing. Jain is, in the '70s tradition, a confessional singer/songwriter, and at times, We Made This Ourselves has a slightly awkward, voyeuristic quality akin to being forced to hear a stranger's half of a cell phone conversation on the bus. For example, "Talking" includes the line "Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up talking/You gotta be kidding me." Lyrical awkwardness aside, Jain's cool, dark-toned voice -- even at the high end of her range, she has a husky, purring edge -- is a skilled and interesting instrument, and despite the simple, monochromatic arrangements, there's enough melodic variety to We Made This Ourselves to keep it from sounding too samey. Fans of the new wave of alt-folk singer/songwriters will find a lot to like here. ~ Stewart Mason
Uncut (p.98) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[T]here's a sedate but warm chamber quality to songs such as 'Haze' and the string-laden 'Sailor' that evokes Sandy Denny and Vashti Bunyan. Impressive and affecting."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.109) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[U]ndeniably alluring. Her palette is minimal....Music as therapy it may be, intimately arresting it most certainly is."
Clash (magazine) (p.112) - "Her graceful, delicate vocals drift through the accompanying bare bones music on 'We Made This Ourselves', which is at times haunting and disquieting, at times warm and gentle."