Tuesday night at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, fans are going to get a glimpse into one of the most underrated and understated talents in music right now. For those of you in the know, that artist is Jessie Baylin. After one independent album and another on Verve, Baylin recently released her third album, Little Spark, independently, which showcases her Winehouse meets Dusty Springfield-influenced vocals, yet with her own jazzified, almost country-ish twist to it.
Born in New Jersey, Baylin has been entrenched in the hearts and minds of music lovers for the past half decade. Little Spark is an album that emerged after the artist her way out of a major label deal that was threatening to mar the clarity of her singular vision. “I drew a lot from people like Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick, the Brill Building writers,” says the New Jersey-born, Nashville-based singer-songwriter in her bio. “But I didn’t want to make a retro, throwback kind of album. Nostalgia is fine, I have a definite fondness for that, but I didn’t want people to listen and think I was trying to recapture something from the past.”
Baylin spent a lot of her time in Los Angeles before moving to Nashville. During her time in Los Angeles, she was a mainstay at the Hotel Café, which is how she built her own fanbase in the first. Why would the New Jersey-native move from Los Angeles to the much smaller Nashville? For those of you who don’t know, Baylin is married to Kings of Leon drummer Nathan Followill, and since the band is based out of Tennessee combined with her style of music, it made sense for her to relocate.
Little Spark was entirely self-funded by Baylin, but not in the way you may think. After leaving Verve, she called her new label Blonde Rat out of tribute to her late grandmother, of which she used her inheritance to fund this project. The album was produced by Kevin Augunas, who did well in finding Baylin a solid session band that supports her dynamic vocals.
Though she’s hobnobbed and worked with some of the biggest names in music (her video for “Hurry Hurry” was directed by her friend Scarlett Johansson), the singer’s emerging popularity is entirely on her own terms rather riding the coattails of her famous husband and friends, which could have been much easier to do. However, the strength of Baylin comes in her strong, yet vulnerable songwriting, which she attributes to living in Nashville and having to be on her own while her husband toured the world. W
Little Spark was released on January 17 and if the album is any indicator of what’s the come, Tuesday’s show at the Troubadour should be terrific.