US folkstress Jenny Gillespie’s Belita EP out April 16th, featuring three collaborations with Sam Amidon
Jenny Gillespie's new EP Belita is an intoxicating blend of folk, indie pop and post-rock. Produced by Jenny and multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily (Jolie Holland, Bonnie Prince Billy, Lou Reed) this is her third release after the lush chamber folk of Light Year (2009) and the ambient progressive pop of Kindred (2010).
After these musical journeys and turning thirty, Gillespie became more and more drawn to acoustic-based music, returning to the sound she loved when she first picked up a guitar as a teenager. She wanted to strip things down, while maintaining a slanted, atmospheric element to her work. Determined, she spent time learning covers of Vashti Bunyan, Bert Jansch and Neil Young, while studying African and fingerpicking-style guitar at the Old Town School of Folk Music.
When Gillespie performed a YouTube cover of Sam Amidon's ‘Saro’ Ismaily, Amidon's longtime bandmate, contacted Jenny to share his appreciation of her version. From there a conversation grew and developed into collaboration. Gillespie travelled from her hometown of Chicago to New York City to record a new work with Ismaily over the course of 2 weeks. They discovered common north stars of their musical vocabulary (Vashti Bunyan, Mark Kozelek, Joni Mitchell's Hejira, and Ali Farke Toure, among others) and decided they would create something that truly featured Gillespie's unique acoustic guitar playing, set often to open tunings inspired by Gillespie's most beloved influence, Joni Mitchell.
Featuring turns by Amidon on back up vocals, Marc Ribot (Tom Waits) on electric guitar, and Jim White (PJ Harvey, Cat Power) on drums, the resulting record is a nuanced and modern approach to the folk genre. Globally influenced, but intimately rendered, with precise yet imaginative instrumentation.
You can listen to the wonderful opening track from the EP, “Creature Of Our Make”, featuring Sam Amidon on backing vocals and violin, and alt-country stalwart Jim White on drums, by clicking on the link below: