Rebekah Jean. Love May Be Real but It Ain’t Enough.
Beautywood, 2012. Rebekah Jean: http://www.rebekahjean.org/ or https://www.facebook.com/missrebekahjean
I first saw Rebekah Jean at the Raccoon County Music Festival in Burton, back in August. What I did not know (and what you wouldn’t know from her website biography), is that I met her before, but didn’t recognize the name or the big blonde hair. I won’t reveal her complete name (that’s her business), but I will mention that she is a Hiram College graduate, and therefore of considerable interest to the folks at this blog. She’s also a Northeast Ohio native from the Geauga County vicinity, with one foot in Appalachia and the other in the Cleveland music scene. Recorded in Akron with Bob Cesare, and with production by David Mayfield and some musical help from both him and Jessica Lea Mayfield, we are looking at a significant debut album.
Rebekah sings country music, but also packs in a lot more. She’s been compared to Allison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, and Iris DeMent, but her voice immediately reminds me of Dolly Parton, with a wonderful pure mountain sound on some tracks (“One Night Moon” and “Buy Me a Guitar” are two good examples). Elsewhere she delves into a folk-rock vein with an alternative edge with “The Devil Is,” and “Cushion My World,” which seems to be getting some visibility for her. Here, she changes up her vocals a bit to fit the instrumentation, and the great guitar work almost, but not quite, pulls me away from the focus of her voice. The title track puts her more in a singer-songwriter style, reminiscent of some of the Lubbock, Texas folks. She harmonizes beautifully on “Love I Had in Mind” and “Big Green Shelter,” and goes full-tilt old-style country on “Still Waters.”
Lyrically, her songs are intelligent vignettes that capture moments of life, usually concerning love or loss of love, and finding oneself. The musicians are top-notch, and I wish I knew exactly who played on which songs, so I could acknowledge them. However, as good as they play, nothing tops Rebekah’s mesmerizing voice that simultaneously cries, scolds, haunts, and seduces. MissRebekah Jean is headed somewhere, but wherever that is, her musical abilities certainly won’t be holding her back.
Get this album. She did put out an EP before this album, Ribbons and Pearls, back in 2010. Get that one too. She’s also playing around town, and you can catch her at the G.A.R. Hall in Peninsula on Sept. 27th, along with Brent Kirby. It should be a fantastic show, and I’m not just saying all this because she’s a Hiram alum.
Performers: Rebekah Jean (vocals, guitars, Wurlitzer WX400 organ, Mellotron), Bob Cesare (drums, percussion), Paul Kovac (guitars), Matt Raum (violin), Jen Mauer (vocals, upright bass), Wes Langlois (pedal steel guitar, other guitars, whistling), Jessica Lea Mayfield (vocals), David Mayfield (vocals, guitars, Mellotron, banjo).
Tracks: When I Break Your Heart, Cushion My World, Love I Had in Mind, Still Waters, The Devil Is, Big Green Shelter, Love May Be Real, but It Ain’t Enough, One Night Moon, Buy Me a Guitar, Best You Could Do, Bottom.