To start, I should probably acknowledge that we weren’t attracted to Jessie Early’s Wild Honey EP purely because the title sounded a little familiar. I can always appreciate a decent coincidence (“synergy”), but were it not for Early’s clear mastery of her craft, we wouldn’t be talking right now.
I’ve always felt that the best pop is always grounded by a layer of sincerity — something that cuts through the blatantly obvious buoyancy or lament of the melodies and instrumentals to allow for a more personal touch. If the song doesn’t mean anything to its writer, how could it ever really mean anything to me? Take Early’s lead single “Heart,” a synth-laden gem with vocal melodies and inclinations that recall an almost folk-sounding storytelling. The delivery feels honest, and that was the first thing that drew my attention. Discussing the meaning of her songs, Early said:
I have a friend who says that the most uncharted subject matter in songs is “everyday life.” Wild Honey really feels like a collage of the last few years of my life…marriage, love, fighting, crying, praying, failing, laying in my living room floor staring at the ceiling, dreaming, driving, dancing in the kitchen. The EP was sort of a collage of these everyday moments.
Wild Honey really started about 3 years ago. I hadn’t written a song in a few years. I had a friend come up to me one night and tell me that the things in my life that I thought were a desert were actually a river bed. It was really a divine moment for me. Basically the things that I felt like were totally desolate or forgotten or dead in my life were actually the things that were going to be really full of life, beauty, and creativity. For me, it really shifted my perspective on my marriage, on my life, and my writing. After that, the songs just started coming and the EP really came out of that place.
With such an auspicious start, Wild Honey retains that sense of possibility, taking on subjects that, while somewhat painful in the moment, feel like they offer a certain catharsis and hope. “Body Can’t Hold” and the title track are particularly moving, the subdued tempos offering a steadfast and earnest resilience that feels addicting. The strings on the latter were offered up from Jeremy Larson, currently gaining attention through his Violents project with Monica Martin, who also produced the EP.
Not to say that all the songs have a more serious tone. “Holy Ghost” and “Living on Your Love,” revel in unabashedly upbeat sounds. The dichotomy on the EP makes sense given Jessie Early’s influences: “Production-wise I was really inspired by everything from Tom Petty, Paul Simon, Fleetwood Mac, Bruce Springsteen, to Sylvan Esso, Lorde, to these old videos of Rich Mullins.” Be sure to give the whole EP a listen above, and check out the release when it’s out officially tomorrow!