Darren Jessee is no stranger to the indie rock community. He’s a founding member of both Ben Folds Five and Hotel Lights. He’s held down the skins for such indie icons as Sharon Van Etten, Hiss Golden Messenger and The War On Drugs. But he’s never released a solo album. This will all change next month as he releases The Jane Room 217 (24 August, Bar/None Records).
“Letting You Go” is so brutally raw that one almost feels like they shouldn’t be listening to this; that maybe we’ve stumbled across Jessee’s diary. He’ll never know if we just take one tiny peek. Who are we kidding? We all know we’re going to read the entire thing!
“I always felt like I needed to have a band,” Jessee says. “There’s something about being with a group of people that gives you confidence. But secretly I wanted to have the courage to be a solo troubadour.”
With The Jane Room 217 he’s finally seen that through. In late 2016, on the heels of Hotel Lights’ release Get Your Hand in My Hand and a world tour with Van Etten, Jessee started writing and recording the songs that would become The Jane Room 217 on a six-track in his New York City apartment.
“I thought it was all just song demos at first,” he says, but after a returning from a tour with Hiss Golden Messenger, he heard the material with new ears. “When I got back around to these songs, I realized it was something I cared about more than just demos.”
Jessee drove the tracks as they were to Richmond, where Trey Pollard (Natalie Press, Helado Negro) of the Spacebomb Records group added strings and Jessee’s longtime collaborator Alan Weatherhead mixed; and for the most part, that’s how Jessee left it.
Quietly devastating, The Jane Room 217 is a personal exploration of heartbreak and romance – made all the more powerful by its clear-eyed restraint.