Los Angeles native Jesse Jo Stark is here to steward her listeners to the underworld of rock and roll. Her short discography, full of passion and melancholy, combines folk sensibilities with goth touches to create a nuanced signature sound. Released at the end of June, Jesse Jo Stark’s Dandelion EP is an incredibly strong first effort, made up of five previously unreleased tracks. The collection ranges from balladic burners to light-hearted doo-wop, tied together by Stark’s breathlessly intimate vocals.
Title track “Dandelion” is ignited from below by a bombastic guitar chord progression, laid down by none other than Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols. Sliding from capriciously note to note, Stark’s vocals dance above the fray, full of blissed-out longing. “Love Is in the Air” quickly changes this tone, coming out of the gate with driving percussion and a campy electric organ line. Full of graveyard imagery, from tropical disease to skeletons, the track sardonically quips: “Love is in the air, and I can’t breathe.” On the lighter side is “Breakfast With Lou,” with surf rock guitar hooks straight out of the 60s. Bouncing around in true doo-wop fashion, the track “Chelsea Hotel” reminisces on the infamous New York establishment of the same name, a hotel and commune with a colorful history, frequented by artists and rock icons alike. Closing out the EP is the introspective “Monster Man,” a slow, moody piece forming the perfect bookend. With a tone of finality, Stark sings a somber farewell: “Well I know that you know / This is the last time / You’ll ever see me again / My monster man.”
Stark is less a star on the rise than a fully formed meteor crashing toward the Earth, ready to rain down a brilliant shower of beautiful, spooky sound. On her current trajectory, the sky’s the limit for Stark’s musical career, highlights so far including opening for Guns and Roses and Jane’s Addiction and supporting Sunflower Bean this past spring on a six date tour. With a full length debut promised in September, we can’t wait to hear what what else is in store.