New Release Friday: Darren Jessee – The Jane, Room 217

Posted by Greg on Aug 24, 2018 in Music |

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After more than a decade using the moniker Hotel Lights, Ben Folds Five (BFF) drummer Darren Jessee has finally attached his given name to a project. His debut album, The Jane, Room 217, is a mesmerizing album and arguably the best record he’s ever released post-BFF.

Though the album is decidedly wintry the songs themselves are near-perfect. Calling the disc a masterpiece might be hyperbolic but from the string arrangements to the weary lilt of his voice, the entire thing feels like a Gus Van Sant film. No not his crummy remake of Psycho, but more along the lines of Good Will Hunting, Paranoid Park, Elephant, and even this year’s stunning Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot. Even when Jesse’s not singing about heartbreak, there’s a twinge of sadness, regret and despair that finds the listener hanging on to every single line.

There’s no escaping the fact that this is a somber album. Opener “Anything You Need” features wintry piano, a lush bed of strings and Jessee’s plaintive and haggard vocals. The eight songs that follow sound much the same. Of those eight the high points incude the bittersweet and downright heart-wrenching “Letting You Go,” the morose and melancholic “Dying Violins,” and the

One of the finest points on the album is the abundance of strings. On songs like “True Blue’ and “Ruins” they turn a dusky, windswept DIY folk aesthetic into something more pronounced and permanent. That bedroom folk vibe is channeled in the piano-driven “Leaving Almost Ready” and “All But a Dream.” Both begin slowly and more or less plod along before being rescued by those soaring strings.

From start to finish, The Jane, Room 217 is among the finest records we have heard this year. Mark it down as another great release from the Tar Heel State and the best release from Jessee to date.

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