Home' LOTL : April 2010 Contents 18 Lesbians On The Loose Magazine • lotl.com
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What is it about heartache that makes
for such great songs? You only need look
at your own record collection to see sor-
row and pain make for remarkable creative fodder -
everyone from Johnny Cash to the Black Eyed Peas
has sung about it at one time or another. e latest
musician to realise that misery makes great company
for inspiration is Jess Harlen, whose new long player
Neon Heartache hit shelves this month.
Perhaps best known for her vocal work on Murph
and Plutonic's acclaimed album And en Tomorrow
Came, Neon Heartache is Jess' debut album, the result
of years honing her cra as a singer songwriter. Made
in collaboration with Mercury Prize-winning pro-
ducer and friend Plutonic Lab, the album ser ves up
a blend of tasty soul, infused with hiphop beats and
It seemed almost inevitable that Harlen would
wind up a singer songwriter, a er all she grew up in
a family of musicians. "My dad and mum and aunt-
ies and uncles all play the guitar and sing so I grew
up in that environment -- it kind of just accidentally
happened." However it wasn't until as a teenager
when she "entered a few competitions and won a few
awards" that Harlen realised she could make a career
out of it. "I did the rounds doing open mic sessions
and playing around and got my way into the business
that way," says Jess. e 'playing around' as she calls it,
also included (and still does) back up singing for the
ever popular reggae fusion out t Blue King Brown.
" e rst show I played with them was at Meredith
festival -- so it was straight into it. Since then we've
gone to the States and Canada and Europe and we're
going to Japan next week," enthuses Jess. "I've learnt a
lot about music as a profession from them."
With an EP already on the shelves, Jess waited
some four years before heading to the studio to record
her album -- the impetus behind the recording, her
partnership with Plutonic and a cache of songs in her
"It was when I met Pluto and we worked together
on 'Don't Worry 'Bout Nothing' that I really consid-
ered doing an album -- and collaborating with Plu-
tonic became an option. He really wanted to do the
record as well. So we just knuckled down and worked
e collaboration has proved so successful the duo
plan another album in the near future. In the meantime,
Jess is looking for ward to seeing 'how the album drops'
and playing the songs out on the road. "We're going to
hit the road from Cairns to Tassie and get the songs out
there," says Harlen. " ere is so much to do!"
Neon Heartache is out now.
Lady sings the blues
Jess Harlen's new album mixes hip-hop, blues and reggae with great results. By Cec Busby.
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