Starting her career as a member of renowned indie act Now, Now, the Maine-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Jess Abbott is the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed recording project Tancred, which she’s released three critically applauded albums — 2011’s Capes, 2013’s self-titled sophomore album and 2016’s Out of the Garden. Adding to a growing profile, Abbot has toured with Foxing, Julien Baker, Weaves, Jessica Hernandez and The Deltas, and she’s played at Riot Fest.
Abbott’s fourth album, the Lewis Pesacov-produced Nightstand is slated for a June 1, 2018 release through Polyvinyl Records, and as Abbott explains in press notes, the album was born out of a rather unexpected revelation she experienced after becoming much more confident with the release of 2016’s Out of the Garden. “After I became comfortable in this new skin, in truly being myself, I was immediately hit with loneliness,” Abbott recalled in press notes. “I realized that human connection is really important to me.” And as a result, Abbott began a journey of personal exploration that involved connecting with others, as much as connecting with herself. “I was reading a lot of books, learning a lot of new hobbies, meeting so many new people — just taking in as much information as possible to try and figure out what it really meant to me to be alive,” she recalled. Interestingly, as Abbott told NPR Music, the new album “takes a step back form the energy of my last album to bring in a little more vulnerability.”
Interestingly, the creative process for Nightstand began in a way that its predecessors began with Abbott alone in a her room with a guitar, strumming chords and singing words until songs gradually coalesced; however, unlike its predecessors, Abbott made a concerted effort to devote three days a week for an entire year to only playing and writing music. When the recording process began at Lewis Pesacov’s Los Angeles-based home studio, the focus was less on finishing songs and more on perfecting them — and along with that, Pesacov offered new approaches and gear that afforded Abbott new avenues of exploration that were incorporated into the production and tone on every song of the album. “My favorite part of each day was sitting down to decide which guitar we needed to use for the song we were recording,” Abbott recalls of the recording process. “It sounds so simple and I know most records are made this way, but it was my first time actually being able to do that and I loved it.” But while being an expansion of her sound, the album thematically and lyrically will further her reputation for songs centered around her own experience as a queer woman — which in our current sociopolitical moment can be dizzying, alienating, and isolating. But as Abbott emphasizes in press notes, there can be comfort in such times: “Ultimately, we are all feeling these things together, and that can be enough to feel less alone. There’s a hopefulness in the loneliness.”
Nightstand’s first single, “Reviews” is a propulsive and chugging, PJ Harvey-like track centered around Abbott’s plaintive vocals which evoke a quiet, resiliency, vulnerability and an aching self-doubt, and a rousingly anthemic hook, and as a result the song manages to carefully walk a tightrope between an intimate, confessional nature and an arena rock friendliness.