Jess Parsons, who collaborates with Bluebook, The Still Tide, Patrick Dethlefs, Alex Cameron and other acts, is a brooding musician. The music Parsons makes under her own name, which takes inspiration from ’70s singer-songwriter fare and offers a fresh take on a Stevie Nicks vibe, could work as a soundtrack to soothe you through your next breakup.
Her just-released EP, Hear Me Calling, includes four moody songs about relationships as they dip, unravel and evolve. Produced by Mark Anderson, formerly of Paper Bird, the material was written in 2019 by Parsons and bandmates Miles Eichner, Neil McCormick and Kim Baxter. Now it's finally dropped, and she's already working on her next record.
Westword caught up with Parsons to learn more about her new music and how she's been doing since the pandemic struck.
Westword: Tell me about yourself, how you got into music, and what you're working on now.
Jess Parsons: Like a ton of other musicians, I grew up playing in church, singing in choir, playing in concert band. It wasn’t until my early twenties that I started writing my own songs and performing with other bands.
Now that I have released this EP, it's on to the next. I have another set of songs that I’m hoping to take into the studio very soon.
How are you making it through this pandemic, and how are your projects faring?
It’s been a strange year. As everyone knows, touring has completely halted, so for a couple projects I’m in — Alex Cameron and the Still Tide — it's been a pretty drastic change. I was able to play a couple of local shows with some of my other projects — Bluebook, Patrick Dethlefs, Street Cats Making Love — over the summer, and we’ve been doing a ton of recording, which has helped to pass the time.
What are you doing to stay afloat, and how is it going?
I teach lessons and have a day job. I also booked for Lost City over the summer and fall. It was a really great way to connect with Denver’s music community. We had to shut it down for the winter, but I'm looking forward to getting shows up and running again in the spring.
Walk me through the new album, its production and the songwriting.
The songwriting was a solo process. I came up with the chord structure, melody and lyrics, then brought it to the band. From there we worked out the structure and came up with the feel and main riffs together. Then we brought everything to Mark Anderson for recording and production. He did such an amazing job of capturing what we had already created and added so much to it. It was such a fun and creative process. I feel very lucky to get to work with such talented people.
This album is soaked through with heartache, longing and loss. What happened that inspired all this?
I tend to write about what I’m going through. I don’t know if it's intentional as much as it's what comes out. The year I wrote the songs, 2019, was full of change. It was difficult, but also really good. These songs are mostly just expressions of some lessons learned.
What's coming up in 2021? Any hopes? Any worries?
I’m feeling hopeful. I think I have to! Winter is on its way out. Outdoor shows should start again in the spring. There is a bunch of recording on the horizon, and there's talk of some touring in the fall. All really good things!
Hear more at Jess Parsons's website.