Jessica Pearson and the East Wind released their latest EP “Grave and Garden Songs” a couple weeks ago, offering a beautifully written and brilliantly executed collection of songs that blend folk, roots, and East Coast bluegrass. Although this group is a trio, their sound is so full as to create the aural illusion that there’s twice the membership. They’ve definitely found their sonic groove with this EP, which features rollicking choruses and tightly drawn acoustic instrumental and vocal work. We’re clearly not the only ones wishing that this was a full-length album, as Jessica Pearson and the East Wind are having no trouble picking up momentum among fans in Ottawa. Moreover, they also recently signed with Willow Records (see our interview with owner Tara Shannon for more info).
We attended their album release show at Live On Elgin on July 8, and it was a fantastic time. The band is so entertaining, fun loving, and above all, talented in both their performance and their arrangements. If you have a chance to see them live, you must (their next show is August 4 – details are below), as they put on a spellbinding show with a ton of audience interaction.
Pat Bigelow’s versatile double-bass-playing lends the group a depth of sound and rhythmic foundation as he jumps between plucking and bowing, adding what’s needed at just the right moments. Jessica Pearson’s voice is clear, confident, and compelling; her magnetic personality definitely shines through her songwriting. Maddy O’Regan’s fiddling is traditional in spirit and striking in execution. However, the group’s standout feature is the number of three-part harmonies that permeate the album, where their voices blend so well it’s as though they sing with one.
The album kicks off with Heave Away, a jaunty rendition of a traditional East Coast tune. This carefree ditty fuses nostalgia with a distinctly modern tone, all while flaunting the group’s distinct charm.
This regional feel is featured prominently in the rest of the album, but is also hinted at in “Think of Me”, the band’s first single as released last year. This lively Sarah Harmer-esque folk-grass tune features heartfelt harmonies and spirited choruses which instill a sense of playful longing.
There’s also “End of Michael Manning”, a rich and sentimental song that showcases the wide range and beautiful sustain of the bowed string instruments. This is carried throughout, even the dispersed bridge which maintains the tautness through solo voice and balanced use of silence. The chorus is singalong worthy and expressive, and helps to keep up the strong energy that characterizes the entire EP.
Jessica Pearson and the East Wind play their next show with Union Duke at The Blacksheep Inn on August 4, 2017, where it’s $10 in advance and $12 at the door; this will probably be sold out so get your tickets soon! Listen to the album on Spotify or get it from iTunes. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.