Today marks the premiere of “The Master,” a new song by Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Jessie Kilguss. The song is from her forthcoming album The Fastness, slated to drop June 1. According to Kilguss, the album’s title signifies “a remote, mysterious natural refuge.”
The Fastness showcases the talents of Kirk Shoenherr (guitar), John Kengla (bass), Rob Heath (drums), along with Susan Hwang, Leslie Graves, and Julie DeLano on vocal harmonies. And of course, Kilguss on vocals and harmonium.
Kilguss began as an actress, appearing with Daniel Day-Lewis in The Crucible, and the touring production of As You Like It. She exchanged acting for music after performing in The Black Rider with Marianne Faithfull. In addition, Kilguss is the Development Director of Musicambia, a non-profit organization that promotes music learning and performances in U.S. prisons.
“The Master” rides a compact grunge-flavored alt-rock melody traveling atop a potent measured groove. Crunching drums and a buff bassline propel the rhythm, as the tight, mechanistic skiffing of the guitar juxtaposes against the throbbing bass. Kilguss’ harmonium oozes depth and dimension, giving the tune an elusive, enigmatic energy.
Kilguss’ voice exudes a shadowy tonal essence that’s deliciously mesmerizing, exotic and almost mystical, yet pure and strong at the same time. When the vocal harmonies enter, the tune takes on a shimmering choir-like semblance, gorgeously layered with silky-smooth textures and a semi-religious sensibility.
The lyrics convey a dignified, majestic thrust, with hints of mystical melancholy.
“The Master has grown old / And it breaks my heart.”
Even with its condensed sonic coordination, the superb vocal harmonies of “The Master” infuse the tune with a glowing radiance and nuanced aesthetics. Kilguss’ affluent, elegant voice locks the tune down, enhancing the compressed feel of the melody. Without a doubt, Kilguss has it going on. “The Master” is splendidly evocative.