Jack + Jill
New Self Titled LP
By Greg Hartman
Entering their 10th year, Jack and Jill are a mainstay for a big show in the Grand Valley. A festival isn’t a big deal unless Aaron and Jessica Seibert are in the line up, along with their talented backing musicians. At this time, the band is filled out with Jake Cram on drums and multi-instrumentalist Taylor Riley on bass. Their previous release, Coloradio, has received wide appeal from fans and looking forward, Jack and Jill wanted to do something special for their next release.
Starting with the concept of a live recording, the group worked through several ideas for the full project while they recorded newly written songs. The group’s first two releases, 2009’s Into the Open and 2011’s Brightest Star in the Nightmare are no longer in print, with the band selling the last few available from their own web site. Many of the songs remain staples in the band’s live set, yet no recordings of them were available that had Coloradio’s rich, pure sound.
A solution was found, with Taylor Riley utilizing his equipment at Fusion Audio Solutions to give some of the older songs a digital facelift, bringing them up to current standards. The result is amazing, several sounds that were inaudible revealed a new depth to the tracks. Slightly tinny vocals were polished and properly showed the versatility of the lead duo’s vocals. Simply put, they sounded like brand new songs. Additionally, the group recorded three new tracks and a new smash up. The end result is a clearer, full picture of the band and their impressive songwriting and performance. Songs marked with an asterisk* were originally released Brightest Star in the Nightmare, and two** were released on Into the Open.
The new self titled LP starts with In Summary*, originally released in 2011. The songs slowly crescendos, starting with guitar and plucked violin, building towards a wall of sound with soaring violin and harmonies. The song takes a few turns starting at the 3:30 mark until its ending at 6:39. Several of the songs from this rea were sprawling, epic explorations of grunge and rock with some progressive influences.. With the new mixing and mastering, the few rough edges are taken off the recording to allow new listeners to appreciate the sweeping, epic beauty of the track.
The second track takes its title from Aaron and Jessica’s daughter, Lorelei. Written with playful lyrics and strong harmonies, the song is a tribute to her personality and is an answer to the next track, which refers to their son. The band has been including the song live for a couple of years and it has become a fan favorite.
Title track of their 2011 release, Brightest Star in the Nightmare*, is dedicated to the couple’s son, Ezra. He stands in as the “best thing”, represented by being the brightest star mentioned in the song and album title. The song sounds even more epic with the updated mixing, with a wall of sound split open by an impressive violin solo at about 4:30 mark.
First released in 2009, Into the Open**, shows where the group was at their founding. Most of the song is a harmonic duet, with acoustic guitar serving as a foundation for the violin lead. The popular track defined the group’s early identity, post grunge alternative with soaring harmonies and a lead electric violin.
Get-A -Way is the second new recording, a driving hard rock song that fits the frantic lyrics of escaping current circumstances. It is a nice break up from the longer epics of the band’s past, and shows their versatility of sound. Track six, Patience*, starts with a sludgy grunge guitar bass and lower key violin that features Aaron flexing his vocal range, going as far as metal growls.
The seventh track, Alzheimers*, brings in more progressive sounds, with discordant pianos and sections of vocal raving. The theme of confusion battling with the familiar continues through the song, with swings between picturesque harmonies and darker, heavier riffs. We Are the Ones follows, which serves as an anthem for “saving ourselves”. The lyrics stand defiant of outside forces or the need to seek outside support, rather showing strength in standing for themselves.
Watch the World Disappear* turns away from the needs of the world as two people hold onto each other. The song veers towards being a ballad, but the vocal approach keeps the song from fitting that mold. A spoken list of questions and societal problems illustrates the need to focus on love as the rest of the world fades away.
You Are My Sunshine** was one of the band’s first hits. The cover is no longer played in full live, rather part of one of the band’s popular mash ups, but it is presented in full here. Jack and Jill’s take adds a haunting element to a song often taken to be about joy, rather than the potential pain of the loss of love. Joy and pain are both found within the recording, balanced between the chorus and verses.
The nearly 13 minute epic Open and Closed* is almost unrecognizable from its original recording. The song hits many different highs and lows, incorporating harmonies, growing vocals, and a full wall of sound at different points. The song seemed a bit long and dense on the original recording, but the new mastering reveals more subtle sound layers that finally reveal the band’s vision.
The final track is a new mash up of Johnny Mandel’s “Suicide is Painless” and REM’s “Everybody Hurts” titled Semicolon Serenade. Recorded with the intention of use for suicide awareness and prevention, the first song is better known as the theme song from MASH. Its lyrics demonstrate the struggle of life, while the second song’s lyrics provide the support of friends and inner strength. The two songs ebb in and out, with Jessica providing most of the lead vocals while Aaron adds in harmonies. It serves as a pleasing end to an epic, nearly exhausting ride through the vision of Jack and Jill.
For those who do not own their first two albums, Jack and Jill will provide half of the definitive vision of the band, when paired with Coloradio. Those familiar with the previous recordings are in for a treat to hear the more pronounced layers of sound. Keep an eye out for more from Jack and Jill, including a new music video. The album is scheduled for release on April 20th at Mesa Theater, with support from Shotgun Hodown, and Wrestlemania.