Album review: "Behind a Veil"
By Catherine P. Lewis
Friday, May 25, 2012
New York folk singer and songwriter Jess Klein is taking her career back into her own hands. She released her 1998 debut on an independent label and switched to major label subsidiary Rykodisc for a few releases, but she put out her latest album, “Behind a Veil,” herself. Despite the DIY approach, the album doesn’t lack polish: The title track opens with a dramatic pulsing that climaxes with Klein’s passionate wail.
Klein’s confident vocals are what set her music apart from that of other folk singers. She comes on strong even on the quietly lilting “Beautiful Child” and sounds surprisingly in charge of her emotions, rather than crippled by them, as she sings about a breakup on “Wilson Street Serenade.” That confidence is refreshing but does breed some monotony.
Klein’s other challenge comes when she incorporates a country sound. “Riverview” begins as a quiet folk number, but the addition of a plucked banjitar partway through becomes a distracting contrast to the song’s hushed smoothness. Similarly, her harsh twang at the beginning of “Lovers and Friends” feels out of place. Luckily, Klein quickly settles into a more traditional pop-rock tone that’s much more in line with her overall aesthetic.