It’s been four years since the last full-length album by singer-songwriter Jessie Kilguss. Often categorized as indie folk due to the storytelling nature of her compositions, it would also be fair to say that she covers pop-rick quite well. One case in point is her latest and perhaps greatest record, entitled ‘What Do Whales Dream About at Night?’. Sublime, serene, introspective and wonderfully imaginative – Kilguss ticks all the right boxes, combining the best of Martha Wainwright, Carly Simon, Beth Orton and Shawn Colvin.
A talented songcrafter with impeccable performance and also a solid team of musicians and technical support to help her realize her vision – the achievement of one perfect album – Kilguss and her band members joined renowned producer Adam Lasus (Yo La Tengo, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Helium) in shaping this album with Lasus also engineering the recordings. If that weren’t impressive enough, this album also involved none other than Charlie Nieland, another very cool Brooklyn-based producer, best known for his work with the likes of Debbie Harry, Rufus Wainwright, Scissor Sisters, Dead Leaf Echo and Blondie.
Leading up to this release, Kilguss released the title track, which was inspired by the poem ‘Headphones’ by Ukrainian poet Serhiy Zhadan, which takes place during the war in Ukraine, along with a video produced and directed by Deborah Magocsi. This was preceded by the singles ‘Sleepwalking Heart’ and ‘Great White Shark’.
On this album, Kilguss is accompanied by drummer Brian Griffin (Patti Smith, Brandi Carlisle, Lana Del Rey), bass guitarist Whynot Jansveld (The Wallflowers, Butch Walker, Sara Bareilles), LA-based award-winning composer and producer Naren Rauch on guitar, and Nathan Schram (Bjork, David Crosby, David Byrne), with whom Kilguss runs the non-profit organization Musicambia.
A former actress, whose acting highlights include the film adaptation of Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’ (starring Daniel Day Lewis and Winona Ryder) and the UK production of ‘As You Like It’ (directed by Royal Shakespeare Company founder Sir Peter Hall), Kilguss made the switch to songwriting after working with two of her musical heroes – Marianne Faithfull and Mary Margaret O’Hara – in ‘The Black Rider’, a musical written by Tom Waits and William Burroughs.
In addition to writing and performing her own music, Kilguss also sings with Gramercy Arms, Jim Andralis and the Syntonics and Benjamin Cartel, having previously performed at the Sundance Film Festival and with Freddie Stevenson, supporting The Waterboys during their European tour.
As of September 23, the album ‘What do Whales Dream About at Night?’ will be available across digital platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music and Bandcamp. That evening, Kilguss’ release show takes place at Rockwood Music Hall in New York.
All songs written by Jessie Kilguss
Jessie Kilguss – vocals and harmonium
Brian Griffin- drums, percussion, keys & backing vocals
Whynot Jansveld – bass, keys & backing vocals
Naren Rauch – guitar, piano & backing vocals
Nathan Schram – strings
Recorded at Studio Red in North Hollywood in April 2021
Produced by Brian Griffin, Whynot Jansveld, Naren Rauch, Jessie Kilguss & Adam Lasus.
Engineered by Adam Lasus at Studio Red in North Hollywood
Mixed & mastered by Charlie Nieland
Artist photography by Shervin Lainez