Jessica Jacobs
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Jessica Jacobs


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The best kept secret in music


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"key of a minor": released April 18, 2000 by Hollywood Records

"chapter 2 ": released April 15, 2003 by T & A Records


Feeling a bit camera shy


On the surface, Jessica Jacobs' stunning sophomore release, Chapter 2, seems suitably titled, but upon digging deeper it quickly becomes apparent that the real story is just beginning. Recently freed from the fetters of major-label machination, Jacobs' tempestuous energies have found themselves altogether unhinged. With an arsenal of whip-smart songs now in full bloom - and her own indie-label venture to boot - the 23-year old Jacobs is proving herself not only inexhaustible, but living testimony to the theories of creation and evolution walking hand-in-hand.

Jacobs' songwriting has long been prolific, and her piano skills impressive. By the age of eighteen she'd already penned a dizzying 60 songs, and with such inexhaustible creativity she quickly caught the eye of Hollywood Records, with whom she signed a 6-album deal. In 2000, and under her maiden name - Jessica Riddle - she released her debut CD, key of a minor, to widespread critical acclaim. Request magazine hailed the album as, "refreshingly direct and devoid of pretension," and the L.A. Daily News confirmed, "[her] songs are often personal and sarcastic, and even at their most optimistic, possess a provocative edge." The album's release also saw heavy radio promotion and national touring support as an opener for Savage Garden and BBMAK. Hollywood had brought her aboard under the pretense that, based upon her writing and potential, she'd be a member of the Disney family for some 20-odd years to come. But as the market became ever more saturated with Britney-esque trappings, execs were inclined to bank on the formula. Finding themselves perplexed by her potential market niche, the smart and scathing songwriting that had originally led to her signing increasingly became ... well ... a riddle. Pressure for tamed teen-pop co-writes was applied, and the deal soon collapsed.

Enter Chapter 2. Jessica married, took her songs with her, and found herself embarking on an altogether new journey. Some of the material on the album developed from demos originally cut for Hollywood; the remainder she managed to muster with her own funds, utilizing the additional talents of the band members with whom she'd previously toured. She taught herself to play guitar, and has now incorporated it - as well as bass - into her live show. Without question, Chapter 2 represents Jacobs' cathartic and fruitful progression from precocious teen to inspired womanhood, and its heady material would find a home much more readily at college/alt radio than with the bubblegum jet set. The melodies are often syrupy-sweet but play counter to lyrics that reveal a dark past. As a thematic whole, the songs are strongly cohesive, and trace a painful path from yesterday's self-loathing, melancholy and insomnia to today's tranquility.

The twists and turns of her liberation move from infidelity ("Homewrecker") and revenge ("Karma in a Gun") through fear of vulnerability ("Drown," "Blue," "Can't See") and, finally, to affirmation ("Deserve Me," "Gravity"). "This whole record is about the unhappiness that comes from negative relationships, and about hearts being broken and repaired," says Jacobs. "So much of my behavior was self-destructive - being the 'other woman', holding myself up as bait for guys to whom I felt superior - it's so easy to hate yourself through the wrong men. Misery loves company, and it all becomes bad habit. All of these songs reflect the experience of changing that. Each time I wrote about the things I was doing wrong, I started doing them right. It helped me to figure out who I am and what makes me tick -

and I actually made myself much happier in the process. Chapter 2 seemed like the perfect title because I'm definitely no longer the same person I used to be."

That person was born in 1980 in the Los Angeles suburb of Woodland Hills, and although Jacobs professes a yearning for the musical wealth and environs of Austin, Texas, she remains in the San Fernando Valley to this day. Her father was also a singer/songwriter and pianist, and he played to her every night from the time she was a small child. She was weaned on his record collection and still professes a deep love for Motown, British Invasion (her piano progressions often evoke John Lennon) and especially '70s singer/songwriters like Carole King, James Taylor and Cat Stevens, whose knack for nuance and pure simplicity are immediately evident in her own writing. Unfortunately, there were chemical abuse problems emerging within her family and, rather than opening up directly to others, Jessica began channeling her turmoil through the piano. She'd written her first song by the age of thirteen, and - although she never suspected it would become a profession at the time - knew she'd be writing for the rest of her life. Her first public performance didn't come until the age of nineteen (two years after her initial signing with Hollywood). "I was so f**king nervous!" laughs Jacobs. "Everybody I knew was the