Jessica Rotter and Bjorn And The Sun At The W Hollywood Hotel, Friday April 22nd 2016
The Loft, at the top of the W Hollywood Hotel offers a series of concert on some Friday night, and, this week, the Mora May Agency with BalconyTV Los Angeles had united to present Jessica Rotter’s CD release party.
Before Jessica and her large ensemble, we got to see Björn and the Sun, a band I had already enjoyed a few weeks ago at the Echoplex. This time, they had dropped a bit their western outfits, although singer Amanda Björn was wearing a very south of the border jumpsuit, and they played their own blend of blues and soul wrapped into a thick layer of pop. The duo, which focuses on boy-girl harmonies with a soulful female dominance, has found its inspiration in the south, more precisely Nashville where they recorded their album with Alabama Shakes producer Andrija Tokic. Their poppiest songs could make you clap and sing-along very fast, while others have a slight Dylan-esque accent when Bob was lurking over Americana. They had a few desert songs like ‘Gypsy Soul’, or songs in a more Americana-mode like ‘Tennessee’, a bluesy ode to the state, or even ‘Young and Restless’, a very catchy tune with a restless galloping tempo. The sound was slightly nostalgic but mostly upbeat, blending all the light of sunny California with the warm and soulful presence of the South.
Jessica Rotter came on stage with a very large entourage of musicians, I counted ten of them! However, during her beautiful set, her warm and crystalline voice never got overwhelmed by the music… her voice and the multi-voices which were blending with hers into perfect and sultry harmonies. They played a set of slowly sprawling music, and if some of the songs had catchy rhythms or thoughtful parts, the style was really impossible to pigeonhole.
With such an incredibly pure voice, you may wonder, who is Jessica Rotter? You probably have heard her voice in movies (‘Pitch Perfect’ 1 & 2, ‘Frozen’, ‘Big Hero 6’), TV shows as she has been singing professionally since the age of 4. She comes from a super musical family – her grandfather even wrote songs for legends Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin – and she has worked with multiple artists such as Daft Punk, Carole King, Alicia Keys, Sam Smith, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and others. She is now releasing her debut album ‘Plains’, produced by Cazz Brindis and mixed by Scott M. Smith (Carole King, John Mayer, Katy Perry),
Jessica and her band were pushing boundaries, she was looking like songstress fronting a chamber orchestra with violin, cello and mandolin, delivering a series of epic moments, as well as a lot of emotional parts. ‘Flying Off’, a multi-layered slow-burn, brought up one by one all the instruments while showcasing Jessica’s voice wrapped into a lush orchestration of strings and discreet percussion. ‘Aflame’, a song inspired by a epic book, or ‘Winter Sun’, a number which was all voices, could have been the soundtracks of the next big adventure movie, while a few songs, like ‘Pray for Rain’ and ‘Stars’, had almost a middle-eastern-meets-folk influence with Jessica’ s pure vocals floating well above gypsy violin, mandolin, keys and a nostalgic melody.
But it was not only about her compositions, Jessica and Emily Colombia, one of her back up singers, did some superbly executed ‘mash-ups’, mixing Miike Snow’s ‘Animal’ with Rihanna’s ‘Stay’ and another one involving a certain Coldplay song and some rap free style from the drummer.
‘A lot of these songs are about my fiancé’, said the singer before starting another of her songs, a very upbeat anthem, involving a even more jubilant chorus ‘Let Me Go’ and a funny mini trumpet, demonstrating Jessica could alternate between joyful ambiance and collected atmosphere with great ease.
They closed their set with ‘Porch Song’, a slow and folksy tune which had the close-to-perfection harmony quality of the purest folk tunes mixed with a sad church-y Christmas-y vibe. But they actually came back with Björn and the Sun and a surprise, paying homage to Prince with an all-choir singing a glorious ‘Purple Rain’
As they were producing a cinematic effect with their impressive amount of back up voices and musical layers, Jessica and her band were getting a huge emotional reaction from the crowd. The view of the stage crowded with all these people and instruments was just as stunning as the view outside over Hollywood boulevard. It’s certain that, after working with so many people, Jessica Rotter has found her true musical identity, a very personal one, creating fluid music, populated by sophisticated and diverse influences, blending into something original and unique.
Pray For Rain
Flowers in My Head
Hit the Ground
Let me Go
Alive For the Weekend