Tuesday, November 15, The Basement East hosted Jessie Baylin and Airpark. The New Jersey native left home when she was 18 to discover herself in Los Angeles, only to quickly figure out that music was her calling. Inspired by artists such as Billie Holiday, Barbara Streisand, and Ella Fitzgerald, Jessie Baylin mixes folk, rock, and groovy pop psychedelia into her own sound. She left LA 15 years ago to the day, and deemed Nashville her new home, following her marriage.
Slathered in concrete and scattered with bunker-like lighting, The Basement offered chilly intimacy. A small, blended crowd started to form at the head of the stage before Airpark went on but, by the end of their ten-song set, the room was packed with eager listeners anticipating Baylin. When she finally doused the stage in her shimmering blue pant suit, the audience was transported to a 60’s club, prepared to be dazzled. She spent a few moments acknowledging her journey, thanked the crowd graciously for coming out to support her, and eased into her first song “Kiss Your Face,” from her 2015 album Dark Place. It had a complimentary guitar riff to the intro of “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” by The Beatles only slower, more sultry, full of desire and longing. Every time her tambourine met the side of her hand, she pulsed to the beat as if the rhythm was trapped inside of it. She cooed melancholic ooh’s as she was joined by the Watson Twins to close out the song with distant Pink Floyd-esque synth.
Baylin played through “Little Spark” and “Hurry Hurry” from her 2012 album Little Spark in preparation for the debut of her latest tracks from her album Jersey Girl released on September 23, 2022. Before the band got the signal to go on with “Velvet Touch”, she thanked her friend and fellow songwriter Thad Cockrell for his persistence and role in her music career. “This song made me think, ‘okay there’s one more in here’, so let’s do it,” Baylin said, her eyes filled with pride. Her band started the introduction to “Velvet Touch” and Baylin let out a slow, smooth ballad that contrasted with her 60’s pop spectacles. It was a song that is best accompanied with a rainy day and solemn thoughts, and it absolutely consumed the building. She shuffled her shoulders gently to the beat as her voice oozed into every crevice and crack, leaving the audience in awe and silence.
The tiniest moment passed before Baylin struck the room with another 2012 classic, “I Feel That Too” where she introduced the dancers from its accompanying music video and brought back the energy. Everybody’s feet couldn’t help but be moved—stepping, stomping, and sashaying had to be done. Smiles lit up the room and it only encouraged Baylin to keep putting her all into the performance. She played another 10 songs, including new hits “Cloud Nine”, “Strange Diamonds”, “Slowest Bullet”, “Time Is a Healer”, and concluded the show with her title track “Jersey Girls”. Each song encapsulated sounds from Fleetwood Mac, The Velvet Underground, and Stevie Nicks stewed together and served on a platter to be devoured by the ears. As quickly as she came, she was gone. Baylin thanked the crowd once more for “coming out on a school night” and left with a gentle nod. People remained in their positions, sure that there would be an encore. There was not—Jessie Baylin didn’t need one.
Jessie Baylin will continue her tour after the new year starting in California, where it all began.
Photo Credit: Stephanie Swart