Some singers can create a mood far before the first syllables of lyric have been woven into a full story; a tone, mixed to dissolve perfectly into music, can say it all. Such is the case with Jessie Baylin, whose ethereal voice shoots the opening notes of Dark Place, her fourth album, into instant emotive territory - it envelops in a mysterious gauze, setting the stage for what is her most raw, personal work yet and also her most thrilling.
Baylin's always been adept at capturing the fragile, complex state of human relationships with a hand that understands the middle ground - things aren't always what they seem, and she isn't afraid to play in that treacherous territory. She often weaves a forlorn lyric with an optimistic vocal lick, or a cheerier song with a foreboding crunch of guitar, looming like a distant thunderstorm; it sometimes makes it difficult to tell if a track is innately happy or sad, but that's the point. Dark Place is the epitome of this dichotomy.
It's the combination of elements on Dark Place that make it such a rattling look into not only Baylin's mind but the human condition: her voice, in its other-worldly tone that can be both angelic and deeply plaintive, cuts through poetic lyrics with throbbing guitars that carve scratches at the beautiful surface, bounding free of both classification and genre. She's Nico, if she could sing like Nina Simone; she's Dusty Springfield fronting Mazzy Star. 'Dusty,' she says, before adding, 'on Quaaludes.'