Jessica Smucker

Jessica Smucker

 Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA

Jessica Smucker writes what could be considered "dark pop" songs: catchy melodies in minor keys, lyrics that masterfully infuse sad stories with flecks of humor and hope.


Jessica Smucker never meant to become a serious songwriter. For much of her life, she sang for fun and dabbled on the piano, but her real passions were poetry and nonfiction writing. She published numerous poems and essays in magazines and journals during her twenties, but as time went by she increasingly found herself turning to the piano for relaxation. Moving her fingers over the keys seemed to draw out words from a different place within her - a deeper, yet more effortless place.

Once she had written a body of songs, it took her a few years to find the will and the courage to put them out into the world. Now, seven years into her music career, she still thinks of herself as a writer first - and a reluctant performer. But audiences experience her voice as a sincere and captivating embrace - the perfect sonic match to her emotionally eloquent lyrics.

Jessica has performed all over the Eastern U.S. and has won several national songwriting contests including the Connecticut Folk Festival Song Competition (2013) and SolarFest 's Singer/Songwriter Showcase Competition (2010). She has opened for notable acts like Cheryl Wheeler and The Kennedys, shared festival stages with Patty Larkin, Catie Curtis, Dar Williams, Antje Duvekot and others, and co-billed with up-and-comers like Heather Maloney and The Stray Birds. Her second full-length album, Tumbling After, is due out in early 2014.

- Winner, Connecticut Folk Festival Song Competition (2013)
- Honorable Mention, East Coast Songwriters Conference Songwriting Contest (2012)
- Weekly Winner, Lizard Lounge Open Mic Challenge (September 2012)
- Artist of the Month, My Rural Radio (June 2011)
- Winner, SolarFest Singer/Songwriter Showcase Competition (2010)
- Second Place Winner, Susquehanna Music & Arts Festival Songwriting Contest (2010)
- Finalist, Indiegrrl Songwriting Contest (2010)
- Runner Up, Tennessee Concerts Summer Song Contest (2010)
- Finalist, Acoustic Roundtable Singer/Songwriter Contest (2010)
- Track of the Day, Raised on Indie (December 2, 2010)
- Pick-of-the-Day, XPN Local (August, September and October 2008)

Festivals & Conferences
- 30A Songwriters Festival - Santa Rosa Beach, FL
- Cape May Songwriters - Cape May, NJ
- Connecticut Folk Festival - New Haven, CT
- Keene Music Festival - Keene, NH
- LAUNCH Music Conference - Lancaster, PA
- Muses in the Vineyard - Belvidere, NJ
- Musikfest - Bethlehem, PA
- SolarFest - Middletown Springs, VT
- Susquehanna Music & Arts Festival - Havre De Grace, MD

Notable Venues
ArtsQuest - Bethlehem, PA
Black-eyed Susans - Angelica, NY
The Cellar Stage - Baltimore, MD
Chaplin's Music Cafe - Spring City, PA
Ephrata Main Theatre - Ephrata, PA
Googie's Lounge - New York, NY
Heartland Cafe - Chicago, IL
John & Peters - New Hope, PA
The Listening Room Cafe - Nashville, TN
Midtown Scholar Bookstore - Harrisburg, PA
MilkBoy Coffee/Melodies Cafe - Ardmore, PA
Puck - Doylestown, PA
The Purple Fiddle - Thomas, WV
Steel City Coffeehouse - Phoenixville, PA
The Tin Angel - Philadelphia, PA
World Cafe Live - Philadelphia, PA


Sweet & Broken

Written By: Jessica Smucker

Summer is hot but the water is cold.
You swim up to me, hold out your shriveled-up hands and say 'I think we're getting old.' I'm trying to laugh but you're drifting away. You're saying, 'Cheer up, Angel Face, nobody's dying today.'

There was a time when you were a snowman, melting in the yard before my eyes. The grip of your hand to the wisp of a man, evaporating, drifting out of time.

I want to be like the edges of the sea,
fold your sweet and broken body into me.

There's a statue of a lady poised above her grave. It says she fell down a crooked staircase on her wedding day. I pass her in the crowded cemetery on my way to the bar where I'm going to drink away another day.


I walk around this little city. It's a trap these days. Everybody wants to leave but everybody stays. I hold my hand out to touch the cool breeze, crunch the leaves beneath my shoe - anything to feel alive now that I've lost you.

Chorus (x2)

Autumn was sweat and winter was blood. We thought that we could make it to the spring.

Reluctantly Yours

Written By: Jessica Smucker

Love is the price we pay for our sins.
The game isn't fun to play, and of course, nobody wins.
Someone gets bored and everybody gets scared.
The jury is rising. The verdict's in. It's 'Why the hell should we care?'

If all the signs are saying Run Like Hell, then what are you still doing, standing there?
I'm not a woman. I'm a warning bell, a doomsday siren blowing through the air.

This isn't real love. It's only a dare.
Fumbling my way to you, to see if I can have an ordinary love affair.

If I can love you I might live again.
It's a simple way of challenging the odds.
But hold on, let me catch my breath again
'cause I can't outrun the vengeance of the gods.

Miracles can happen, sure, but you're not dumb.
You're not on your hands and knees -
you're putting on your coat and getting ready to run.
Don't be alarmed but I'm blocking the door.
I'm cynical and sad but still
reluctantly yours.

Every time I put my hands on you
it's like I'm lost and running in the rain. But if I never find my way again, well, I'd have to be a fool to complain.

No One But Myself

Written By: Jessica Smucker

Everybody wants a piece of me--
And you know me, I try to oblige--
But listen up, the party's over now.
I'm not giving in this time.

What started as a Yes became a hard, resounding No.
I stood up to those fools and told them all where they can go.
I thought I could be everything to everybody else.
Now I know there ain't no pleasing no one but myself.

Being nice won't get a girl anywhere
But it's always been my way.
Come back later, you might wear me down
But it's not happening today.


No, no, no, no, no....


Now I know there ain't no pleasing no one
but myself

Show Me A Man

Written By: Jessica Smucker

Show me a man I can admire
Show me a woman who is brave
enough to get where she was going before somebody came along who needed to be saved

I can't offer you protection from the cold, cruel world
I need freedom more than safety - I'm no ordinary girl.
You're comfortable, you're crazy and you're getting in my way
Maybe I love you but it doesn't mean I'm gonna stay

I'm tired of rooting through these barrels
of all that's old and sick and worn
I've heard these bins can yield a bargain but I keep coming up short

Your storybook delusion try to string me along
but I'm not looking for a shelter, I'm looking for a bomb
Expode into my heart - I want to sing a different song.
Come on, baby, prove me wrong

I've seen the lonely parts of heaven.
I've scoured every inch of hell.
If there's a difference, well, I might be unqualified to tell.

Show me a man I can admire
Show me a woman who is brave
enough to get where she was going before somebody came along who needed to be saved

Show me a man
Show me a man
Show me a man


Show me a man I can admire
Show me a woman who is brave
enough to get where she was going before somebody came along who needed to be saved

Dear John Letter to Jesus

Written By: Jessica Smucker

listen Jesus, I don’t mean to throw your love away
you’re a good guy, you’ve got pretty eyes
and some witty things to say
but I’ve been walking through these streets alone
through quiet nights and silver rains
I put my faith in things like gravity
it has your force without the name

you’ve been true but I need more
than promises of doom
it’s the 21st century, if you keep telling me how you’ve bled for me
well then, you’re just another bearer of bad news.
your broken body on the shelf for me
it’s the last thing that I need
when all my friends have left the bar at night
and you are that still remains

I tried to tell you to go back to heaven where you belong
I tried to stop writing you into every song
they say you’re merciful, then why don’t you please leave me alone?
I’m not a bad girl, I’ve just got too much going on

I tried but you just stand there, holding out your hand
the saddest part is I really do think you’d understand

Shut Up

Written By: Jessica Smucker

I want to lose you today
pump you with air and watch you blow away
I’m tired of love, I love you too much
but here in this moment, loving you

the drip of a faucet, a steep waterfall
there’s too much too fast or nothing at all

I can’t get through to you
you’re preaching like a prophet, dooming all the fun,
screaming like a madman, pushing til you win
the more you’re pushing out, the less you’re letting in
well I have had enough of this
white noise static coming from your lips
why don’t you shut up and let me love you?

try not to feel what you said
give it a moment, give it a rest

I’ve never been good at walking away
but I deserve more than to love you today

I can’t get through to you
you’re preaching like a prophet, picking at my sins
pointing like a moonbeam raging at the sea
caught up in a wave that’s crashing over me
well here I am, still playing my role
a lonely body and a cluttered soul
it’s time to shut up and let me love you

here we go again, here we go again…

shut up and let me love you.

There and Back Again

Written By: Jessica Smucker

sometimes the world just isn’t big enough
I want to squeeze myself out of this womb
if hope is a cut, I am the razor blade
if love is a dirt pile, I am the broom

(chorus) follow my own rules
listen to no fool
float like a leaf on the breeze
it doesn’t matter
where I lay my head
as long as I can breathe

putting my quarters into the Wurlitzer
tossing a bottle into the sea
throwing my voice out into the universe
hoping someone’s got a message for me

the river of life dried up and left me here
with no one to love and nowhere to go
pick up a pencil, put it back down again
only the silence knows what I know


all of these years, the lure of the moon at night
the epic adventure, the freedom to roam
but here by the fire, here where it’s safe and warm
my big disappointment: there’s no place like home

The Blues Are Here to Stay

Written By: Jessica Smucker

I’m not blind but I wanted to be
to wrap myself inside a dark cocoon, the land of the free
I get so tired of the undertow
of all the things I can’t let go

(Chorus) oh…there is nothing we can do or say
to make the river flow the opposite way
we’re spending all our time these days just learning how to be okay
good things will come and go but the blues are here to stay

we’re high and dry, we’re down and out
digging through the trash for something that’s worth singing about
the wild geese are heading south
you and I are living hand to mouth


I’m not blind but it’s painful to see
the odds against us ever being honest, happy and free
so I dance alone in the dark at night
forgive myself when I can’t find the light.


so I’ll rip the joy from the mouth of pain
wander through the streets and look for hidden music under everything
I can feel the beat in the pouring rain
I can follow the sound of a passing train

oh…there is nothing we can do or say
to make the river flow the opposite way
the sooner we accept this life, the sooner we’ll be okay
good things will come and go but the blues are here to stay
good things will come and go but the blues are here to stay


The Sleeping World (EP), 2008
Reluctantly Yours (solo EP), 2010
This Broken Moment, 2010

- The Starving Artist Compilation Volume 1 (2011) -
- Music For Everyone Volume 4 (2011) -
- The Winter Tales Collection (Locust Lane Music, 2009) -
- Hill/Valley (Mennonite Artist Project, 2010) -

- 91.1 The Globe (Northern Indiana)
- Indie Revolution Radio Show/Podcast
- Midnight Special Blues Radio
- My Rural Radio
- Pongid Radio
- Radio Free Vermont
- RuKus Radio
- The Songwriter's Network
- WBOI (Northeast Indiana Public Radio - Fort Wayne, IN) - Meet the Music
- WCFA-LP (Cape May, NJ)
- WFNM (Lancaster, PA)
- WGDR (Plainfield, Vermont) - Acoustic Harmony
- WMUH (Allentown, PA)
- WNJR (Pittsburgh, PA) - acousticSongs Live!
- Women of Substance Radio
- WQSU (Selinsgrove, PA)
- WXPN (Philadelphia)

Film/TV soundtracks:
- No Sanctuary

Set List

Original songs in rotation:

Autumn Lullaby
Beautiful Sin
The Blues are Here to Stay
Brooklyn Bridge
Christmas is Coming (You are Leaving)
Codependent Love Song
Crazy These Days
Dear John Letter to Jesus
The Evidence of Pain
Holy Holy
Land of Goshen
Last Minute Messiahs
Looking For Spiders
A Lovely Mess
Mermaid's Kiss
New Year Song
No One But Myself
No Reason
Party Like We're Free
Rattle My Chain
Reluctantly Yours
Same Time Every Year
Show Me a Man
Sin-eating Eyes
Shut Up
Sweet & Broken
There and Back Again
Want You More
The Way Down
What Matters More Than God
When It's Time to Move On
With Us or Against Us
You'll Forgive Me