Jess Jocoy “Let There be No Despair”

Independent, 2022

Second album release from Nashville-based Jocoy features fine vocals and well-crafted lyrics finding hope in darker times.

Artwork for Jess Jocoy album "Let There be no DespairNashville-based but hailing from Oregon, south of Seattle, Jocoy’s second full-length release following her 2021 EP ‘Brighter Eyes’ was recorded at Cabin Studios in Nashville, through whose doors many fine singers and songwriters have passed over the years. Working with producer Brandon Bell, whose credits include Zac Brown, Miranda Lambert, and Brandi Carlile, her well-crafted lyrics dealing with the darker times we all experience are delivered with sincerity and conviction evident in her fine vocals.  

The opening track ‘I Will be Glad’ gives an accurate foretaste of the tone and character of her album, a reflection on the impact on her and her mother of the loss of her father to cancer at an early stage of her emerging career. Her song is both heartbreaking and optimistic, as she sings But in the end that big old mountain we keep climbing /I pretend that I’m already at the peak /In the end when the sunshine turns to rust /And my body returns to the dust /For all the sweetest days I’ve been given /I will be glad”

The special qualities of her voice are evident from the off too, rich and full-bodied, but always natural and unforced, letting her lyrics shine through, against an acoustic guitar-led arrangement, with gentle percussion and fiddle.

‘Living in a Dying Town’ addresses an oft found theme in Americana, the death by a thousand cuts of small towns, but with a powerful sense of melancholy, the addition of mandolin and strings giving a wistful tone, Jocoy telling Found out I’m living in a dying town /It’s like watching the sun set on a long, long day /People that you grow up knowing, they ain’t around anymore /You come to find out time really does slip away/Ooh.” ‘Jericho Walls’ has a jauntier feel, with a percussion-led mid-tempo feel, and prominent fiddle, a tale of yearning for a relationship, while bearing the wounds of lost love—needing to allow the defensive Jericho Walls of the title to be brought down.

The title track ‘Let There Be No Despair’ offers hope in the darkest times, with viola and cello building to a powerful outro over the repeated title refrain. There is a subtly Celtic feel to Jocoy’s phrasing on ‘Always’, its slow tempo well matched to its theme of the hope of enduring love, with electric guitar adding to its depth, while ‘Two Shoulders’ has as its theme the hidden strength and resilience to be found: “so tell me again just how much weight two shoulders can really take”. ‘Waiting to Exhale’ has an eerie, unsettling feel, with strings and distorted electric guitar, but always sitting under Jocoy’s distinctive vocals, and her powerful lyrics suggesting recovery from sexual violence She said I know that you feel like you’re burning down /Like a house set alight from the inside out /I’m getting paid to tell you you’ll be alright /People hurt people all the time”.

Jocoy is credited with vocals, acoustic guitar, backing vocals and co-production with Bell, with support from Ethan Ballinger – acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mandolin, banjo; Brian Allen – electric bass, bowed bass, cello; Lydia Luce – violin, viola; and Matty Alger – drums and percussion. Fine vocals and thoughtful and sensitive lyrics give Jocoy’s songs real resilience and hope.

8/10
8/10

About David Jarman 69 Articles
Long time fan of Americana genre, from early days of Ry Cooder, through to today's thriving scene. Regular visitor to USA ( Nashville/Austin/Memphis/LA ) live music junkie, I play guitar, mandolin, harmonica, plus vocals, run monthly jam session in Broadstairs

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