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Current concise reviews of the albums by adult alternative, contemporary, and crossover artists. Images of album artwork and links to both internet-based resources are always included. Click on the title to view the article.

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Jessi Hamilton Debut CD Cover
Image © Hamiltunes, Inc. 2004
\r\nReleased on Aorta Records

More Jessi Hamilton
Interview and Photos


(05 July 2004) Singer/songwriter Jessi Hamilton (piano, lead vocals) fronts a live lineup including Bob Andressi (drums), Brian Eggleston (keyboards, backing vocals), Harry Ford (bass), Mike Staertow (guitars, backing vocals), Cindy Samulski (backup vocals) and Dawn Sherman (backup vocals). Her stunning debut self-titled album (Aorta Records (USA) AOR-JH-1001, 2004) includes contributions from these artists and others and is comprised of thirteen tremendously produced tracks and is certain to delight our visitors. The album was produced by Chris Stevens and Bruce Pilato.

Though only 20 and not even born at the onset of the Women-Who-Rock movement, Jessi Hamilton is sure to be a name that will soon be added to the list of important female singer/songwriters. She writes, sings and plays music that is both passionate and compelling. Hailing from Raleigh, North Carolina, Jessi has spent years honing her craft, which is a radio friendly blend of piano-driven soulful rock'n'roll and ethereal, yet powerful ballads. Though she refuses to be trapped by having to always deliver one specific style of music, Hamilton is able to keep her recordings consistent by means of her exceptional voice.

In addition to her ability to write and sing her songs, Hamilton is also an exceptional piano and keyboard player. Formally trained in piano since the age of four, she has extensive experience in playing rock, classical, Broadway and some jazz styles of piano. After hearing Jessi Hamilton's current recordings it all comes together: amazing musicianship; songs from the heart and a voice that is undeniable.

At the age of 14, Hamilton connected with Raleigh-area producer and recording engineer, Chris Stevens, who helped her make her first demos. Hamilton and Stevens worked off and on for four years, until her current style--and some of the album's songs--had been developed and recorded.

In 2002, she caught the attention of music journalist and artist manager Bruce Pilato who has worked with several platinum artists as diverse as Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Foreigner, The Tubes and Asia. In addition to signing with Pilato Entertainment, she also retained the North Carolina law firm that represents platinum superstars Hootie & The Blowfish.

Rather than follow the traditional method of using demos to get a record deal and having the label pay for--and own--her records, Hamilton's family funded the remaining equipment necessary to allow her and Stevens to make a world-class album in his Raleigh-based studio. Bruce Pilato also contributed to the album's production.

RockRGrl Magazine recently named Hamilton as one of the best unsigned female acts in the country. She will has been featured on their Discoveries compilation CD and in the magazine. Jessi worked with her band in Upstate NY during the summer of 2004 in preparation for a tour to promote the album.

Jessi's self-titled album is comprised of eleven new songs plus covers of tunes by Randy Newman and Al Green. Highly varied in both style and sound, the album is certain to attract critical acclaim as well as attention from a wide range of music enthusiasts. The material spans Jessi's vocal range and includes alternative, popular, rock and West End tracks. The initial pressing, available from Jessi's website and in selected commercial outlets, is a Limited Edition release by Pilato's own Aorta Records.

Jessi Hamilton is as highly accessible as it is mature and the range of material is certain to delight a wide range of audience tastes. The recording demonstrates Jessi's tremendous virtuousity, with the tenderness to do heartfelt ballads as well as the power for rock, funk and groove. The crystalline texture of her voice is evident across the album and superb production has ensured that she is never overpowered by the instrumentals, even in the louder passages.

While every one of the tracks on the album is certain to have mass appeal, one standout is clearly "When They Will Sing," an upbeat pop-oriented number with lush vocal layers and a rousing chorus with a tremendous hook. The instrumental/vocal bridge is the most astounding passage on the album. Listeners are certain to be drawn to the hearfelt and gently rocking ballad "Watching River" and the thick and rocking arrangements of "Sands of Time." And in sharp contrast, many will be delighted to hear Jessi's showcase in the elegantly arranged West End ballad "Simple Days."

The recordings effectively balance lush instrumental arrangements with layers of Jessi's vocal work supporting her lead. Jessi's covers of Randy Newman's "Every Time It Rains," and Al Green's Nashville-oriented "People In the World (Keep On Lovin' You)" couple with the hip-hop texture of "Turn Off, Shut Down" to further demonstrate the artist and her production team's virtuousity.

Jessi will be touring with her band to promote the album later this year and a review of one of her live performances is planned. This album is a tremendous starting point for Jessi Hamilton and sets the stage for a very promising career in the music industry.

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