Live review: Jess Jocoy, Kitchen Garden Cafe, Birmingham – 7th June 2022

Photo: Paul Gibson

Approximately halfway into her set Jess Jocoy is explaining the backstory of her song “The Gardner”, a song for women who can’t have, or have lost children. She verbally questions her right to broach such an emotive subject in a song, and then as she starts to play she pauses, momentarily overwhelmed by the meaning, before tentatively finger picking the opening arpeggio on her Martin guitar. It’s a poignant moment shared by artist and audience alike, and one that underlines how effortlessly her songs connect with the listener, exposed and unadorned, in this most intimate of live environments. 

The small music room at the back of Birmingham’s Kitchen Garden is the perfect setting to see and hear a singer-songwriter of Jess Jocoy’s calibre. This is her first visit to the UK, and the Nashville resident is riding high on a wave of acclaim for her newly released second album “Let There Be No Despair”. The acoustic core of the songs from this new album are well suited to the cosy, compact venue and Jess’ performance is flawless from start to finish. 

Despite her confidence Jess exudes a vulnerability and charm which is equally endearing and appealing. She takes time between the songs to talk, in the finest folk club tradition, about her songs, the writing process and inspiration behind them, and what they mean to her. This openness instantly breaks down any barriers that might have been anticipated and has the effect of feeling that Jocoy is talking to you, instead of talking at you. 

With just a couple of songs left to play, the warm early summer weather breaks and the heavens open. As the rain starts to drum heavily on the glass roof of the venue Jess spontaneously breaks from her set list and switches to her song “Summer Rain”. Her ability to turn on a dime is impressive and the song, like Jess’ whole performance, is as cool and refreshing and welcome as the meteorological precipitation outside. 

About Paul Gibson 18 Articles
I'm a singer-songwriter based in Warwickshire, influenced by Americana, country and folk. I gig regularly around the area and when not making music I'm listening to or writing about it.
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