AUTUMN SHADE - Isabelle Has Wings
(Self Released, 2013)
Per oltre sei lunghissimi anni si erano perse le tracce di Jes Lenee, autrice di un prezioso debutto all’insegna di un folk avvolto da un’incantata patina di polvere (“Ezra Moon”, 2007). Quando ormai cominciavano a svanire le speranze di riascoltare la magia ammaliante della sua voce dolce ed evocativa, la cantautrice originaria dell’Oklahoma è tornata a manifestarsi dal suo isolamento creativo lanciando, nei primi mesi dello scorso anno, una sottoscrizione online finalizzata alla pubblicazione del secondo disco di Autumn Shade, progetto personalissimo tuttavia condiviso con una piccola orchestra formata insieme a Nathan Wright e Sharla Pember (banjo, archi, ritmiche e altro).
La gioia di ritrovare, ormai quasi a sorpresa, un’interprete del folk al femminile che tanto aveva colpito all’esordio per fascino e personalità, trova conferma nelle dodici tracce di “Isabelle Has Wings”, che nello spirito e in buona misura anche nella realizzazione, affievoliscono in parte le sfumature oscure dell’esordio, senza tuttavia disperderne le fragili ma palpitanti componenti sentimentali. La declinazione folk della Lenee, ancora incentrata sull’alternanza di pianoforte e strumenti a corda, appare invece affinata nel corso degli anni trascorsi, che ne hanno come decantato le componenti più acute e impervie, così come ne hanno ripulito l’estetica dalla maggior parte delle imperfezioni in media fedeltà. Eppure è proprio con poco più di settanta secondi di solo pianoforte spettrale costellato da piccoli detriti sonori (“White Lily”) che si apre il lavoro, mentre tematiche e atmosfere da casa degli spiriti tornano ad affacciarsi nel corso del lavoro, in una ballata suadente e tenebrosa quale “Meadow To Ashes”, nelle moderate torsioni di “Chandelier” e “Forest” e nell’andatura lenta e sbilenca di “Dancing Windows”.
Il più delle volte è comunque sufficiente un dolente abbraccio di violino o contrabbasso, un misterioso incedere di note di vibrafono o ancora semplici stille acustiche reiterate ad ammantare di un vellutato alone di tenebra canzoni che della tradizione folk colgono soprattutto i tratti di una coralità esecutiva che sfocia in un piglio cameristico virato in tonalità seppia, sfocate e sottilmente inquietanti.
Per buona parte del disco, comunque, la voce cristallina della Lenee – che alla prima entrata non lascia affatto indifferenti – si riveste di colori più vivaci, persino solari (“Rainbows”, “Jasper”, “Frog”), e dei tratti di una malinconia in fondo dolce, filtrata da minuti ricordi del tour europeo seguito al primo disco (“Blue Umbrella (Paris + Istanbul)”), esperienza che in qualche modo deve averle fatto introiettare sentori di decadente raffinatezza da orchestrina mitteleuropea (evidenti in particolare nella conclusiva “Marionette”).
Benché meno denso di episodi dall’impatto immediatamente impressionante, “Isabelle Has Wings” risulta un’omogenea galleria di opalescenti miniature di un’antica magia folk, ingentilita da un singolare approccio da camera dal fascino dimesso e misterioso, che è un vero piacere ritrovare dopo tanto tempo insieme alla splendida voce e all’accresciuta maturità della scrittura delicata e autentica di Jes Lenee. Bentornata!
Translated into English- For over six long years they had lost track of Jes Lenee, author of a valuable debut in the name of a folk surrounded by an enchanted patina of dust (" Ezra Moon , "2007). When he began to fade hopes to listen to the bewitching magic of her voice sweet and evocative singer-songwriter originally from Oklahoma came back to emerge from its isolation creative launching in the early months of last year, aimed at a subscription online publication of the second disk Autumn Shade, personal project, however, shared with a small orchestra formed along with Nathan Wright and Sharla Pember (banjo, strings, rhythm, etc.).
The joy of finding, almost surprisingly, an interpreter of folk female that had so impressed his debut for charm and personality, is confirmed by the twelve tracks of "Isabelle Has Wings", which in the spirit and to a large extent also in realization, fade in part obscure nuances of onset, without, however, throw away the fragile but vibrant emotional components. The declination of the folk Lenee, still focused on the alternation of piano and string instruments, it seems rather refined over the years, who have praised as the most acute and rugged components, as they cleaned up the look of most imperfections in average fidelity. Yet it is precisely with little more than seventy-second piano solo spectral dotted with small debris sound ("White Lily") that opens the work, while themes and atmospheres from the house of the spirits have reappeared in the course of work, in a mellow ballad and darkness as "Meadow To Ashes", in moderate twists of "Chandelier" and "Forest" and gait slow and lopsided "Dancing Windows."
Most of the time it is still a painful hug enough treble or bass, a mysterious pace of vibraphone notes or even simple acoustic repeated drops to a velvety cloak of darkness aura of traditional folk songs that capture especially the traits of a choral enforceable flows into an air chamber tacked in sepia tones, blurry and subtly disturbing.
For much of the disc, however, the crystalline voice of Lenee - that the first entry does not leave indifferent at all - is invested with more vivid colors, even solar ("Rainbows", "Jasper", "Frog"), and whether a sweet melancholy at the bottom, filtered minutes memories of the European tour after the first album ("Blue Umbrella (Paris Istanbul +)"), an experience that must somehow making her introject hints of decadent sophistication from Central European orchestra (particularly evident in the conclusive "Marionette").
Although less dense than the impact of incidents immediately impressive, "Isabelle Has Wings" is a homogeneous opalescent Thumbnail gallery of ancient magic folk, embellished by a unique approach chamber discharged and mysterious charm, it is a pleasure to find after all this time together with the beautiful voice and the increased maturity of the writing and gentle Authentic Jes Lenee. Welcome back!
Tulsa, Oklahoma native Jes Leneé’s prematurely world-weary and timeworn vocals may betray a maturity beyond her years, but they also possess a damaged, little-girl-lost quality that suffuses her songcraft with a ghostlike, almost spooky ambience. Her lyrics, however cryptic and ambiguous, are nonetheless conveyed with an anguished candor that reinforces the music’s supernatural affectations, and while she frequently sacrifices profundity for abstraction, Leneé’s nebulous lyrics suit the tone of the music, which has a distinctly antiquated flavor to it. Her voice is expressive, but conversely yearns to convey something inexpressible, as on the beautiful and somewhat distressing “Red,” with its simple yet devastating melody and ominous lyrics.
Ezra Moon, Leneé’s debut release under the name Autumn Shade, illustrates the manner in which an album’s whole dynamic can be altered entirely by its production, and in keeping with her band’s moniker, there is an autumnal, almost gothic quality to these pieces, redolent of gray skies, wet leaves, and wood-smoke haze. The record’s opening instrumental, “Sparrow,” features a delicate piano figure that, with its slightly out-of-tune character suggestive of a creaky upright piano from an Old West saloon, ultimately dematerializes and dissipates as if into a cloud of dust motes. Leneé’s lyrics and plaintive, minor-key chord progressions convey a wistful sense of melancholy that, coupled with the record’s atmosphere, pack an additional emotional wallop. Ornate piano melodies are a testament to Leneé’s background as a classically trained musician and add a subtle hint of color to a generally sepia-toned affair.
Reduced to their constituent elements, which generally include little more than vocals, guitar, and piano, with the occasional violin and hammered dulcimer flourish, the frugal arrangements of these tracks are fairly straightforward. But the filigree production from Derick Snow infuses the music with something spectral and sometimes icy cold. Snow’s production also serves to emphasize the broad dynamic range of the instruments. This technique is manifest on the incredibly haunting “Spanish Willow,” which features a vibrant and animated acoustic guitar line that makes Leneé’s subtly reverbed vocals sound even more spectral and otherworldly, as if those of an apparition beckoning from beyond this mortal coil. Other shorter, more piano-driven tracks act as interludes that showcase the singer’s impressive dexterity on the keys.
Stark as these pieces are, they make amazing use of space; in between guitar strums or the deftly keyed notes of a piano we find ourselves paying attention to the lingering ambience, which seems informed by an earthy resonance. As if to even further emphasize the importance of space, atmosphere, and the visual aspects of Autumn Shade's music, Snow doubles as a live painter on stage. On the whole, Ezra Moon is an exercise in subtlety. Trim and succinct, these 12 tracks showcase the abilities of a talented, budding songwriter, and leave us waiting in earnest for more.
Autumn Shade is the nom de plume of Jes Lenee', a stunning young songstress brimming with unbridled talent. Armed with a satchel full of pensively beautiful tunes, Lenee' possesses a voice as pristine as any your ears will have heard in this lifetime. The fact that Lenee' calls Tulsa, Oklahoma home only adds to the mystery, for her music is much more aligned with the astral plane than anything resembling the Okie Plains. Lenee' is a classically trained piano prodigy, who at the age of eleven was penning songs that won award recognition. Ultimately seduced by the craft of songwriting, Autumn Shade is a marriage of her piano prowess and folk-inspired guitar strumming, imbued in a heady ambiance and enveloped in some of the most heavenly, intimate vocals to have come down the pike in some time.
Formed in 2002, the band self-releasing an EP entitled Grandfather's Attic, which caused a stir in the Tulsa and Midwest area; in the live setting, the band incorporates painter Derick Snow, who creates his pieces on stage, allowing the moods to dictate the whim of his creations, lending a tactile visual element to the music. Set to splash with their full-length debut Ezra Moon, Autumn Shade has concocted a fascinating foray into an ethereal, yet emotionally raw netherworld.
Ezra Moon is a journey into a unique sepia-toned microcosm, one that intertwines folk, chamber music, psychedelia, avant-rock and indie singer/songwriter. Opening with the wispy "Sparrow", a delicate piano interlude softly fluttering in and out of focus like a foggy memory, the misty landscape spills into "Home", a folk-inspired lament driven by acoustic strumming and Jes Lenee's yearning vocals. Colored by additional instrumentation of violin, hammer dulcimer and percussion, and a healthy penchant for sonic experimentation, the narcotic, detached feel of Ezra Moon is reminiscent of albums by the female artists that helped define the 4AD sound. Jes Lenee's classical roots and compositional sense invoke the avant-chamber feel of Rachel's, if they were enveloped in the hazy folk atmosphere that Marissa Nadler resides in. Ezra Moon is an entrancing debut, inaugurating Autumn Shade into the contemporary folk scene with an understatedly personal and cinematic sound.
Labels: Creative Songwriting, Creative Vocalism, Dark Folk, Etheral, Intimate Music, Medieval Folk, Nordic Music, Somber Music
"Her fragile, intimate voice recalling fellow proud Midwesterner Conor Oberst, Lenee' leads a Tulsa outfit that's gaining renown for spare, deeply empathetic alt-folk tunes." --CNET Download.com
~This is by far one of my favourite albums of time. The music is hauntingly beautiful and it never ceases to amaze me. The mixture of piano and vocals surpasses everything else I have ever listened to. I just wish she would come out with another record...Autumn Shade made me love music again.
Imagine someone playing a piano on an empty stage in the middle of cave and you have the initial concept of Sparrow that quickly turns into a haunted windswept land. Guitar follows with organic sounds morphing with dreamy psychedelic vocals.
The piano appears again in "Lilacglass" and quickly melts away, providing a certain clarity between the vocal haze and then the music turns breathlessly beautiful in Violet which I found to be interesting on the emotional level and this album delves into emotional complexity, revealing beauty in love and loss.
Jes Lenee's voice wanders through dreamy worlds of piano, violin and folk-inspired guitar. Through a merging of modalities, she creates a completely unique sound that sounds hauntingly familiar to the heart. The album ends as it begins and the way this album is arranged shows an advanced sense of artistic excellence.
~The Rebecca Review
Autumn Shade’s Ezra Moon, songwriter and classically trained pianist Jes Lenee’s second full-length album, is an extraordinary mix of folk, rock and classical influences, the songs minimally couched and passionately sung against a backdrop of piano and violin. Lenee has a hushed childlike voice, which, at times, can flare up into a passionate banshee wail. She can sound a little like Lisa Germano, that is, cool and lovely and crazily intense, yet the musical backing sets her apart. Listen to how ripples and waves of cascading piano play tag with stern, 20th century classical violin tones in the title track, and how Lenee’s voice darts in and out of complexity, like bird’s song magically woven into a string quartet sonata. She is nakedly vulnerable in the melancholy “Lilacgrass”, soft notes worn, bent, even broken, by the sheer emotional heft of the piece. There’s a touch of Appalachian vibrato here, a hint of blues-born wildness that gives the song a jolt. But Lenee is no primitive, the song ends in a precise gavotte of piano, as civilized and complex as the verse was raw and real.
• Multiple songs Streamin
Jes Lenee and Autumn Shade put one of the more intriguing records in the past few years w/ Ezra Moon: the recluse show
About: Autumn Shade is a marriage of Jes Lenee's piano prowess, angelic, intimate vocals and folk-inspired guitar strumming imbued in a heady instrumental ambiance finished off with the intensely beautiful visuals of their live painter, Derick Snow.
All I can say is wow!!! Another masterpiece. A very powerful piece of poetry, emotion, song-writing, musicianship. I love the way your songs can be felt. I'm not saying that in the sense of people generically getting an emotional feeling from music, which happens in almost all cases. I'm speaking of an intense, almost subconscious connection to nature, love, peace, and beauty, and sometimes loss, which shines through in just about every song that I've heard from Autumn Shade to date. Truly, need to absorb the song and lyrics further after my first listen. You are definitely one of the most talented and versatile artists/musician I've heard in quite some time, and I'm always on the search for great music :)
Their is not any "fakeness" to your work. It's obvious that it comes from within, without much regard to stuffing marketing down peoples throats. A true artists indeed. Let me the music speak for itself. Much peace and love and keep up the fantasti... Mark Conner