Jessie Baylin is a most compelling artist and live performer. She’s adorably shy on stage, but also seems to truly enjoy performing. At a recent show that brought her back to her old stomping grounds in New York City, Baylin filled the Bowery Ballroom with adoring fans and the sounds of her honeyed voice and killer band.
Baylin looked gorgeous in a flowy red top and torn leather pants, her hair perfectly wavy, and it was impossible to take your eyes off her. Though her first two songs were plagued with major sound issues that seemed to intimidate her quite a bit, she pulled it together and breezed through song after song from her stunning new record Dark Place. It was obvious that it meant a lot to her to be performing in New York City, in the company of her family, who she lovingly called out.
Dark Place is an evolved record from 2012’s Little Spark. While both are full of Baylin’s lush, sultry harmonies, Dark Place is quite literally, dark. It’s also scenic and pretty and flowy, but mostly it’s dark. It’s more pop than country, and when you hear it, you might not be sure how many of the songs would translate to a live show. But they do, and so beautifully. Baylin’s voice shined on the heartbreakingly sad “The Ringer” and “All That I Can Do” and she gracefully grooved to “Black Blood”, “Hurry Home”, “I Feel That Too” and “Call Me.”
Baylin seems perfectly at ease with her band, like they’re her oldest friends in the world. With the ravishing and uber talented Courtney Jaye on backup vocals, and Scotty Murray busting out major guitar solos, Baylin has a blast on stage. They particularly rocked out on Spark’s “Holiday” and “Creeper” (which she had performed for Seth Myers mere hours before the show.
While her voice isn’t a powerhouse, it’s so different and special. It’s layered and sexy, occasionally deep and then wispy and light. Baylin’s gauzy sound suits her songs well, giving the already heavy seventies vibe a kind of laid-back ease that really elevates it. Though Baylin has major mainstream appeal, given her cool-girl style and A-list hubby (she’s married to Nathan Followill of Kings of Leon), there’s something so humbled and down to earth about her. When you’re watching her perform, you feel a genuine intimacy and kindred spirit emanating from her, like she’s your good friend. She’s warm and accessible, and her music is full of love.
When she was cheered on for more at the end of the show, Baylin sweetly told the crowd she’s never taken an encore in her life, before wrapping up with “Yuma” and “The Greatest Thing That Never Happened”. Hard to know if she was serious, and even harder to believe that’s true, given her stellar performance.