Victorian country, blues and folk artist Jess Parker has released the title-track from her forthcoming third album Wholesome Prison Blues following premieres on Sunburnt Country Music and Swinging Doors on PBS.
Jess Parker has had a prolific few years, with the release of two albums in three years – Death Songs and Kitchen Spirituals (2020), and Bread and Butter (2022), both of which received critical acclaim and led to a string of sold-out shows, from Melbourne to the state’s outer regions.
In the very near future, Jess will release her new album Wholesome Prison Blues on the independent label Ragged Gum Records and today she sends the title-track single out into the world.
The song tumbles out of the speakers like a Mexico/California speakeasy border jam. One can draw a line to the jazz, country and blues fusion style that artists such as Tom Waits, Calexico and Pokey LaFarge do so well.
As Jess explains, ‘Wholesome Prison Blues’ came together in unexpected circumstances. “It was written after falling into a fever dream on a break at work, at the Old Castlemaine Gaol!“
“It’s a tale about a piano player who keeps a gun in their boot to fend off drunks, and ends up accidentally shooting a man who tries to steal their boots mid-song. This is a plea from their jail cell, an attempt to get back their honky tonk freedom.”
Jess’ previous single ‘Help Myself‘, which premiered on Sunburnt Country Music and Swinging Doors on PBSFM, was broadcast on the video channel CMT and received widespread airplay across community radio, takes Western Swing and the sound of New Orleans (courtesy of Eamon McNelis’ trumpet and Phill Jenkins’ tuba) and blends them seamlessly. A country strum and melodic fiddle playing provide colour and verve for the dance floor, while Jess delivers an important, righteous message about “being a woman in a man’s world, learning to be yourself and havin’ fun!”
With their unique brew of country blues, minor-key sass and Western Swing, Jess and her band know how to sling a tune.
After being nominated for ‘Best Regional Act of 2022’ by Music Victoria, Parker and her seven-piece band are picking up traction – making a household name for themselves, across Australia and internationally, as bonafide originals – true country gems.
Jess has performed with the likes of Cedric Burnside (USA), CW Stoneking and Tex Perkins to name a few – gaining recognition as an incredible songwriter, finger-picker and storyteller.