Darren Jessee recently dropped his first solo project, called The Jane, Room 217. It kind of a surprise really that everyone hasn’t already heard about him. He has a gold record, a platinum record, and part of a Grammy Award.
Since 2004, he’s dropped four records using the moniker Hotel Lights, while simultaneously drumming for Ben Folds Five, Sharon Van Etten (Are We There), and Hiss Golden Messenger (Hallelujah Anyhow). He contributed to The War on Drugs’ A Deeper Understanding, winning the 2017 Grammy Award for Best Rock Album.
In 2016, after releasing Get Your Hand in My Hand as Hotel Lights and touring the world with Sharon Van Etten, Jessee began composing and recording a series of songs that would eventually appear on The Jane, Room 217.
Encompassing nine tracks, the album opens with “Anything You Need,” a sparse tune vaguely reminiscent of Pink Floyd peeled down to nothing but an acoustic guitar and surfacing strings. This is a gorgeous song, intimate and wistfully pensive.
Speaking subjectively, the best tracks on the album include “Letting You Go,” a tender, melancholic tune riding an acoustic guitar and lushly textured strings. Jessee’s high-pitched falsetto hits just the right notes, infusing the tune with tantalizing wisps of remembrance.
A personal favorite is “Ruins,” because of its measured rhythm and soothing, gossamer strings. “All but a Dream” opens with a lightly strumming guitar and Jessee’s mellow voice, accompanied by streaming filaments from the strings. As cliché as it sounds, this is a beautiful song, luxuriant and flowing.
The closing track, “Go On Baby Break Down,” reflects compact, Spartan harmonics – just a guitar and Jessee’s voice, simple and austere until the end of the tune, when surfacing colors arise gently in the backdrop.
Marvelously wrought, The Jane, Room 217 is gloriously gracious, plush with pastel hues, and intimately evocative. Definitely listen to this one, or regret it later.