So often in life we have to travel the emotional distance between loss and love. We find ourselves running from loss to embrace love, or sometimes, running from love to keep pace with emptiness and sadness.
For critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Jeanne Jolly, this type of bittersweet transitional period inspired her most soulful and vulnerable album to date. Aptly, she calls her sophomore album, to be released October 2nd, A Place To Run.
“When I look at this record, I realize every song speaks to that title,” the Raleigh, North Carolina-based artist reveals. “There are songs about a place to run to get away from grief or deal with it. There are songs about a place to run to be with the one you love, or a person being someone you can run toward.”
Jeanne Jolly’s artistry encompasses the heartfelt confessional quality of the singer-songwriter tradition, the earthiness of American roots music, a hint of jazz sophistication, and the smoldering emotionality of soul balladry. Her vocals exhibit a honeyed expressivity, shifting between down-homey and sweetly soaring. Previously, she’s released an EP and a full length—her first album, Angels, debuted in the Top 15 on the iTunes singer/songwriter chart. She’s garnered plum accolades such as being praised as a singer/songwriter who “melds folksy, soulful country with heavenly, heartfelt lyricism” (News & Observer), and as a vocalist who “can easily shift to the dusky lilt of Alison Krauss or the sophisticated jazz phrasing of Rickie Lee Jones” (Missoulian). The Boston Globe calls her “one of contemporary music’s best kept secrets. She is a revelation when you sit in on one of her concerts.” Atlanta Music Guide says, “Damn, that Jeanne Jolly can sing. Imagine Joni Mitchell with Billy Holidays stylings.” Over the years, she’s built robust live profile through tireless touring. She’s shared the stage with such respected artists as Rodney Crowell, Emmylou Harris, Billy Joe Shaver, Jim Lauderdale, Sam Bush, Scott Miller, Maura O’Connell, Chuck Mead, Chuck Prophet, and Chatham County Line.
Jeanne began her musical career as a featured vocalist for Chris Botti. While touring with the Grammy award-winning jazz trumpeter, she worked with world-renowned symphonies and had the distinct honor to perform at venues such as Carnegie Hall and play marquee events such as the Monterey Jazz Festival. She is classically trained as a singer and holds a master’s degree in vocal performance from the New England Conservatory of Music.
On A Place To Run, her music background comes together organically, like never before. Her accomplished musicality, intimate lyrics, and passion and respect for the heritage of country, folk, and soul music smoothly blend together with elegant earthiness.
A Place To Run is grittier and heavier, in terms of groove and lyrical content, than any of Jeanne’s previous releases. “We were going for a more soulful and unrestricted sound this time around.” Jeanne confirms. “The rich and earthy sounds of Wurlitzer organs, woodwinds, lap steel, Juno, guitars, and thick vocal harmonies bring a deeper and more soul stirring sound overall.”
The album finds Jeanne reunited with childhood friend (they’ve been buds since kindergarten) and musical confidante Chris Boerner. Chris is her guitarist, co-writer on their song, “Boundless Love”, and previously produced her debut, Angels. “Chris gets my language, I trust him, and he’s the groove master,” Jeanne says. Chris produced, mixed, and mastered A Place To Run. The album was tracked at The Fidelitorium in Kernersville, NC with a special eight-piece band. “We carefully chose the musicians we love to record with us,” Jeanne reveals. Besides Chris Boerner, the band features Jeanne’s longtime pedal steel player Allyn Love, Phil Cook and Brad Cook from the acclaimed Raleigh band Megafaun, and Bon Iver drummer Matt McCaughan, among other stellar instrumentalists James Wallace & Matt Douglas.
The profound themes of love, loss, and running between these extremes permeates the album. On the country-porch soul of “Gypsy Skin” Jeanne sings, “let me be your sweet relief/let me light up your darkest night.” Here, she offers a place for her lover to run to, as a home away from a restless heart. The beautifully complex tapestry of moony melodicism on “California” cycles through acceptance & mourning until reaching a peaceful closure. The album title is from a lyric in the swampy and stately “Boundless Love.” “That song is about the fact that everyone needs a place to run. The message is–don’t put limitations on love and expression, be free and bold with your love, and pray with your feet moving. Don’t wait around for life to come to you.” Jeanne says.
A Place To Run turned out to be a three-year journey. “In that time, I’ve winded down the touring of my last album, soaked in my life here in North Carolina with family, and focused more on my songwriting. I’ve definitely come to a better understanding of my own balance with this musical carrot that dangles in front of me every single day & the renewal that comes from putting it down to walk with my husband & dog.” Jeanne says reflecting back. “Now, I’m busting at the seams to get out there and share this music live. “