“Maybe I'm degenerate and maybe I’m a waste of time/But you're a fascist, sociopathic nightmare and destroying other people's lives” Jess Locke sings on ‘Bitter-Better’. In a moment she hasn’t just conveyed piece of mind but a state of being. Not just hers, but yours, mine and everyone else’s too. A conversation with Locke at BIGSOUND earlier in the year left the impression that these are the moments she’s striving for as an artist. She’s twisting personal experiences into something bigger and universally relatable.
Latest record Universe comes littered with these sentiments. Its ten tracks might navigate differing topics and shades of emotion but at its core, it’s a music built upon its sincerity and honest vulnerability. Her lyrics might spring from the dark corners of introspection isolation, but this record is very much making a bid to relate en masse.
Locke’s guitar-driven sound energises her vocals in perfect tandem. Together they scale giddy ebbs of emotion. Outside of the impressive cuts which formed the record’s leading singles ‘Universe’, ‘Paper Planes’ and ‘Bitter Better’, Locke’s strengths are exemplified within the dragging lulls of ‘Violent Turn’ and the nihilistic drawls of ‘Magic Words’.
Even a wearied dissection of digestive health that is ‘Gut Feeling’ spills with pathos. Universe paints something which is miserabilist, but also beautiful. Born forth by a love for and belief in songwriting, Jess’s Universe is an impressive collection of songs documenting an artist both in her element and at her finest.