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Jessica Bailiff

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Album Review

Bailiff departs from her collaborative union with Low for her self-titled third album, recording it at home with the help of area pals. Her vocals remain elaborately delicate — her voice is like fine china that threatens the edge but never quite falls. "Swallowed" and "Hour of the Traces" both feature accompaniment from a weirdly-pitched instrument. It could be a fiddle, might be a harmonica, but it doesn't really matter which, as the overall effect is what's important here. Slowness; sadness; slight hope; lingering atmosphere. To that end, "Traces" approaches the fragile mysticism of Mary Timony, although Bailiff seems more enamored of Native American rhythms than she does medieval ghosts. That's definitely a fiddle wandering from the left to the right channel in "Big Hill," as Bailiff's measured, mildly creepy vocal drones over top. In "Disappear," the faraway washes of feedback and subtle tambourine doing their business underneath the Bailiff whispers. Other highlights include the prescient loop cut-ups of "Time Is an Echo," as well as "Hiding Place"'s outsider folk hush. Bailiff's version of the slowcore/experimental idiom is always interesting, because she seems to have so many ways to keep things deathly quiet.


Born: Toledo, OH

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Toledo, OH's Jessica Bailiff began recording in 1995 and sent a demo to Kranky Records at the suggestion of Low's Alan Sparhawk. In 1998, Bailiff's excellent debut appeared on the racks, bearing the Kranky logo. The largely slow-tempo material of Even in Silence, full of blurry effects and buried vocals, earned positive shoegaze and slowcore comparisons. Hour of the Trace followed a year later, which wasn't too far removed from the sound of her debut. A dark self-titled LP arrived in 2002, gaining...
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Jessica Bailiff, Jessica Bailiff
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