Sydney-born, London-based singer/songwriter and producer, Jess Chalker started her music career as the frontman of Aussie New Wave act We Are The Brave. And since We Are The Brave’s breakup, Chalker has become a highly sought-after collaborator: She has worked with Sam Fischer, Vintage Culture, Isamachine, Gold Kimono, and Passenger — and she was part of the Grammy Award-winning songwriting and production team that cowrote Lisa Loeb‘s lead single on the acclaimed artist’s kids record Feel What U Feel. Additionally, the Aussie-born, British-based artist wrote “Darkest Hour” for the Amazon Original series Panic, performed by Tate McRae.
Chalker finally steps out into the spotlight as a solo artist with her full-length debut Hemispheres. Slated for a November 5, 2021 release through her own imprint 528 Records, the album was completed under the massive weight of the pandemic, and as Chalker grappled with the loss of her day job and heartbreaking health issues.
Much like countless others across the globe, she found herself spiraling and turned to music for the creative outlet she needed. Collaborating with friends across Sydney, Los Angeles and London, including Dan Long, Josh Humphreys and Chalker’s former We Are The Brave bandmate Ox Why, Chalker wound up finishing what would turn out to be a deeply emotional album. And interestingly enough, she managed to find much longed-for freedom in the process: “Releasing this album is terrifying and thrilling to me,” the Aussie-born, British-based artist says in press notes. “I grew up in a religion that discouraged us from pursuing career success, where women weren’t allowed on stage to address an audience directly. I think it’s why I’ve always tried to avoid the spotlight but, after the year we’ve all had, my perspective on things has changed quite a lot. I’m not wasting any more time doubting myself.”
Sonically, the album reportedly finds Chalker and her collaborators crafting material featuring guitar-driven hooks and retro synths paired with the Aussie-born, British-based artist’s expressive vocals. Thematically, the album deals with themes that explore the dichotomy between depression and hopefulness, self-doubt and self-love and more.
In the lead up to the album’s forthcoming release, I’ve managed to write about two of the album’s previously released singles:
- The Chalker, Rich Jacques and Martjin Tinus Konijnenburg co-written “Don’t Fight It.” Centered around glistening synth arpeggios, reverb-drenched drums. Chalker’s expressive vocals, the track hints at Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush and Prince, while full of the bittersweet longing and uncertainty of a narrator who’s physically and emotionally lost.
- The breezy and defiantly upbeat “Stupid Trick.”Centered around shimmering guitars, atmospheric synths, Chalker’s plaintive vocals, the song thematically focuses on the innocence and desperately intense feelings of teenaged love, before gradually learning what love really is and what it really means. And while bringing up memories of Pat Benetar‘s “Love is a Battlefield,” Rod Stewart‘s “Young Turks” and others, the song continued a run of material driven by Chalker’s unerring knack for paring earnestly written material with a razor sharp hook.
“Cynical,” Hemisphere‘s latest single is a smoky pop song centered around Chalker’s achingly tender vocals, twinkling keys, atmospheric synths, a sinuous and propulsive bass line, and a bluesy guitar lines. But while being sultry and full of longing, “Cynical” possesses an underlying tension, tumult and tension that should feel familiar to anyone, who has been in a complicated, dramatic relationship full of fiery passion that will burn out or blow up in everyone’s faces,
“Musically this song feels quite drama-filled,” Chalker says, “There’s a tension in it that’s familiar, like the tumult of being in one of those relationships you know won’t go the distance but feels good in the moment.”
Directed by Thomas Calder, the recently released video for “Cynical” is part lyric video, part music video in which we see Chalker rendered in blown out, psychedelic colors,.