Stop sifting for obscure ‘70s soft-pop on Spotify playlists like “candle-lit living room slow dance” and buy Jess Parsons‘ Hear Me Calling. The Denver-based songstress is known for her work with acts as diverse as the tongue-in-cheek, soft-glam of Alex Cameron and experimental, chamber art-pop of Bluebook, but proves she’s got her own thing going via this, her second proper EP, which dropped in January.
Often compared to Fleetwood Mac, Parsons finds her true groove somewhere between Jenny Lewis, Aimee Mann and the disco side of Feist. Hear Me Calling has a core of sweet, singer-songwriter sincerity, but keep a spot on your dance card free for that special someone, because it’s got hips.
Attentive accompaniment of tasteful synths, mildly overdriven vintage guitars, organ, and occasional orchestral counterpoints from horns, all tuck neatly beneath Parsons’ understated, romantic melodies. Notably keen drumming by Kim Baxter drives Parsons’ mid-tempo party bus with a soft and steady snare drum, crunching lightly like footsteps on fresh snow.
“Heart Emoji” echoes the Twin Peaks theme via Miles Eichner’s guitar in its spooky, supporting role. The track is beautifully arranged leaving ample room for Parsons to stretch her leading-lady legs and coy, subtle swagger.
“Wasted Time” cloaks Parsons’ backup band in fluted, atmospheric delicacy, bringing us fully in the winter of 2021 with snowy soundscapes on par with Sigur Rós. No drums to propel things here, but as heard on each of the EP’s tracks, the real enchantment is woven by Parson’s straightforward vocal.
Keeping things simple, beautiful and by putting her heart on her sleeve, Parsons carries Hear Me Calling on the strength of its no-nonsense songs. The album impresses, but it doesn’t dazzle, and that’s because it doesn’t have to. Parsons knows well that charm and honesty go a long way. If the cards fall in her favor, that could be all the way to true timelessness.