Soul / jazz singer Jessi Teich has taken a good chunk of Europe by storm (particularly France) and is poised to become your new favorite singer here in the United States.  Her voice ranges from smoky to sassy to sexy and her new album, Twisted Soul, is a welcome breath of fresh air to a music world dominated by carefully molded pop idols.  What’s most stunning about this record, however, is that it’s a story about a woman discovering she’s in the middle of and then leaving a destructive relationship (as Teich did before the record was made).  The record is so lovely that you can miss the underlying themes of domestic abuse and female empowerment.

The album was recorded in Paris, and it shows in the production values.  The whole record sounds like it could be heard while doing a Paris jazz bar tour one summer night.  Opening track “The Haunting” doesn’t have anything to do with the masterpiece horror film from 1963, but it does show how Teich’s voice can be haunting and get into your head.  “Think You Do” is a fun jazzy number with some great accordion work by Laurent Derache and piano by Thierry Maillard of the famous Thierry Maillard Trio (all of whom play on this record).

If you don’t at least admire Jessi Teich by the end of these two songs, you’ll love her when you hear her cover of Tom Waits’ “Clap Hands.”  I’d love to hear her duet with Mr. Waits on this in a live performance.  It would be astounding.   “Carnival” has the album’s main character realizing that chaos is now her reality. There’s nothing chaotic about her back-up band on it, however.  Everyone cooks on this track.

The title track is another burner, with some of drummer Yoann Schmidt’s best chops on the record.  “Diggin’ a Ditch” highlights Matyas Szandai’s upright bass and Teich’s vocal dexterity as she dives into soul singing and almost rap at one point.  “Lucid Lover” has Teich imagining a dream lover who treats her right.  The hip-hop drums and the jazz piano on this mix very well with Teich’s voice.  “Sunday Morning” has Teich kissing off her jerk of a lover while Maillard plays some of his peppiest piano licks.

Teich beatboxes in her cover of Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River.”  She beatboxes on an album about a terrible relationship and reclaiming her life after it.  How can you not love her?  “Someday” is a lovely, sultry number about Teich being tempted to make a deal with the figurative (or is it literal?) Devil to achieve success at the cost of her mental and probably physical health.  “Ruins” has Teich crawling from them and raking her a-hole of a boyfriend over the coals with lyrics like “And you’re dressed like Rambo, but you got no ammo.  Cuz it takes two to tango, baby.  Come on and pull your knife out, Mr. Big Shot Cub Scout.  You got nothing to fight about, baby.”  Maillard goes for broke on the track and sounds like he pounded his piano so hard that one of its legs broke.

The album ends with the playful, lovely “The Simple Life.”  You can practically see Teich dancing through Paris streets, buying flowers, sipping wine, and catching the glances of many lovely people.  It makes you smile, and it’s nice to know Teich came out of that dark place smiling.

By Nik Havert

Nik Havert is a writer, DJ, harmonica player, martial arts instructor, comic book publisher, crime fighter,music lover, cult movie enthusiast, and modern day Renaissance man.  He hopes to shark cage dive sometime in the next few years and enjoys travel and good natural root beer.