Jess Yoakum
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Jess Yoakum

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States | SELF

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States | SELF
Band Folk Acoustic


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Jess Yoakum - CD Review"

Attitude is one of the great variables in terms of performance. Part of the grand performer/listener equation lies in the listeners' perception of the performer's attitude. Jess Yoakum, for the most part, is a transparent soul. This can serve her well in her music or it can prove a hindrance, depending on what each individual listener is looking for.

Yoakum all but disappears into each track on this debut, serving as a clear, spot-free window into the world of each song. Tracks such as the sparse "Bubbles" carry a power all their own as Yoakum's smooth, breathy vocals do their thing over her acoustic guitar work. These ostensibly are "new" songs, but to her credit, it sounds like she has been playing them forever. "Bubbles" balances out the frenetic strumming and long, carrying vocal phrases of "Escape Route" belie another sort of musical power. Yoakum continues transforming her performance with each track, sliding back a bit for the follow-up "Lay Down," a track where Yoakum harmonizes with herself rather nicely as a (gasp!) electric guitar gains the foreground over Yoakum's ever-present acoustic guitar presence. This is somewhat notable, as most of the music on Jess Yoakum is provided by acoustic instrumentation, the initial track "The Leaving Song" having previously set the tone with its head-bobbing rhythm and vintage strings. Midpoint track "Emily's Song" has a "Wild Horses" structure calling to mind visions of Mick and Keith, but Yoakum's lullaby vocals and soft delivery really bring the song home in such a way that she again makes the track entirely hers, not to mention the fact that she's a 27-year-old local girl and not a 67-year-old Englishman.

Much like Sir Alec Guinness, Yoakum is an almost-transparent presence in her music; she's not overly emotive in her performance, but instead chooses to let the songs speak for themselves; her guitar and her voice serve as a vehicle for the track rather than the opposite; the results are a genuine and pure-sounding recording that is an absolute treat. (self-released) - Northeast Performer - C.D. Di Guardia - July 2005

"Jess Yoakum visits UVM"

(Yoakum's) two Burlington performances, one at UVM's Living/Learning Center and one at the Radio Bean, were promoting her newly released self-titled album...

The warm red light of the Radio Bean seemed to fit the mood Saturday evening, as Jess's smooth voice enveloped the coffee drinkers with lyrics such as "It's Friday night and I'm watching bath bubbles form figures, then dissolve around me like they're clouds. I could absorb all this water and still shed no tears, I could hold my breath forever...." Her songs explore the emotional complexities of relationships and her experiences on the road...

Jess Yoakum's songs seem to convey insight beyond her 27 years. In "The Leaving Song" she sings, "We both talked the world in metaphors - black and white and greed and spite and we stayed in the playground of our thoughts, a level distance from our hearts."

- Karen Hills - Vermont Cynic - April 19, 2005

"Life's crossroads color local musician's vision"

Standing out as a musician in an artistically rich neighborhood can prove challenging, but rising folkstress Jess Yoakum appears to be thriving in an atmosphere of like-minded souls. Since moving to Jamaica Plain three years ago, the 27-year-old singer, songwriter, and guitarist has returned to her musical roots, recently recording her first CD as she continues to inspire audiences from throughout greater Boston and beyond.

About a year and a half ago, after securing a less draining day job in the admissions office at Berklee College of Music, Yoakum took on the onerous task of compiling her experiences over the last decade into an album. Resulting from this game of creative catch-up are songs that, while consistent in their melodic, all-American style, tell a wide range of stories. - Will Jason - The JP Bulletin - May 26, 2005


This singer songwriter not only writes to present a message; but she also performs to benefit the message. In today's world it is rare to find artists who practice what they preach, nevertheless trying to find people who preach anything of worth at all. So does this artist's music project her vision to the full extent of the spectrum?

A wise musician once told me, "The greatest gift of music is to emanate a strong message with as little volume as possible". Jess Yoakum, you have succeeded.

It seems we have for our ears the quintessential qualities of a fragile music box. The unpredictable power of such a contraption can only be captured through experience, making Jess Yoakum an artist who can move you without shaking you out of your seat. When Jess states in her press kit that her songs can "silence the rowdiest crowd", she damn well means it. While bands keep turning louder and louder to capture an audience's attention, Jess Yoakum has instead focused on her power of lyrics and their rippling delivery. Not only does this get our attention Jess, but it also sets you apart. This music is therapeutic for both the writer and the receiver, all through the medium of plucked strings and vocal chords. - Daniel Lavagna - Northeast In-Tune Magazine, Nov 2005

"CD Review"

Listening to Jess Yoakum is like having a conversation with an old friend - Honest, sincere and utterly unpretentious. Each song a glimpse at the haunting beauty of an often unperfect world. The simple arrangements allow Jess's heartfelt vocals and reflective lyrics to sit center stage while the additional instrumentation courtesy of Charlie Worsham (Mandolin, Dobro, Bass, Guitar and Banjo) adds a wonderful warmth. - Jeannie Deva Voice Studios - Sept 2005 - Jennifer Truesdale Brogan

"Music Review"

Yoakum's vocals transcend genre while pulling the listener in with uncommon tones and flavors. Lyrically refreshing, she hooks the listener with thoughts and ideas not often found in today's mainstream music markets awarding her further commercial appeal and validity. The under production and acoustic feel of the album allows the material to breathe, subsequently showcasing Yoakum's artistic integrity and authentic talent which, in our opinion, would generate positive interest from music industry professionals including record labels both independent and major. - IMG Music Promotions, Inc. - July 2005

"Jess Yoakum CD Review"

In her self-titled, debut release, newcomer Jess Yoakum is nothing less than pure 100 % folk enjoyment. With her soft and gentle voice, it’s an easy, pleasurable listen full of sophisticated lyrics and a very satisfying folk sound. Smooth like an autumn wind, Jess portrays a self-journey full of journal-istic songs about love, self-discovery and dreams. The passion runs thick throughout the tracks, sure to bring on daydreams. If Patty Griffin joined forces with The Sundays, the sound would be a unique style to what Jess Yoakum puts forth. Definitely an artist to watch for and one day say, “Hey, remember when…”

CHT Pick: "The Leaving Song"

  - Coffeehouse Tour - Heather Corcoran - August 2005

"Indie Acts Rock for Cancer Research"

The concert, which was held at the Pioneer Arts Center in Easthampton, was headlined by some of the most promising Indie female artists in conjunction with the Indie Music For Life non-profit organization. Denise Barbarita, Vicki Blankenship, and University of Massachusetts Amherst alumni Jess Yoakum proved that the rise of the female soulstress is underappreciated.

The much sweeter, power lyricist Jess Yoakum embraced that passion of Denise and elegantly lured the audience to her heavy vocals. The UMass Amherst alumni got her bachelor's degree in Latin American Studies while doing music on the side. She is a fan of the Indigo Girls, Paul Simon, and "old-school" female power-houses like Aretha Franklin and Joni Mitchell, but relates her music as "Patty Griffin meets The Sundays," which may be more accurate than not. Her lyrics were as piercing as her voice, as shown in songs like "The Leaving Song," "Escape Route," and the particularly powerful "Emily's Song," which explores her view of her sister's childhood. Jess's lyrics are self-demanding and pressing, yet she is truly humble. "It's hard to write about life experiences without getting self-absorbed," she said. One of her favorite parts of being a musician is being able to play benefit concerts, and as a local artist, she enjoys playing in the region. "Venture out; there is so much to do in this region. [The region] is such a rich area arts-wise that you miss out on a lot of opportunities if you don't," she said.

For more information on shows and giving to the Indie Music For Life fund, visit - Kelly Kraemer - The Daily Collegian - Sept 2005


This Quiet Mile - released 9/2010
Jess Yoakum - self-titled released 4/2005

Radio Play on stations including:
Chicago, IL: Chicago Acoustic Underground (internet)
Chicago, IL: Fearless Radio (internet)
Boston, MA - 88.9FM WERS Coffeehouse
Northampton, MA - 103.3 FM: Valley Free Radio
Amherst, MA - 91.1 FM: WMUA
Portsmouth, NH - 106.1FM:WSCA
Portland, ME - 90.9 & 104.1FM: WMPG
Sarasota, FL - 96.5FM: WSLR
Cincinnati, OH - 88.3FM: Every Womon
Portland, OR - 90.7FM: Radioio Acoustic
NTG Radio - all women all day
Dallas, TX: Nette Radio
Boston, MA: Boston Beats Radio
Neon Productions Radio: The Songwriters Network
Brooklyn, NY: Radio Crystal Blue



At the end of 2008, in the midst of an intense economic recession, Jess Yoakum made the risky decision to leave her day job and pursue her musical calling as a songwriter and performer. She set out from her hometown of Boston, MA on a 2-month long national house concert and coffeehouse tour. Traveling by Greyhound bus, Yoakum found herself in places off the traditional tour routes, including the homes of friends and family throughout the country.

Yoakum's style, described as "Patty Griffin joined forces with the Sundays" (Coffehouse Tour, Heather Corcoran) is well suited to intimate venues and listening rooms. IMG Music Promotions says, "Yoakum's vocals transcend genre while pulling the listener in with uncommon tones and flavors. Lyrically refreshing, she hooks the listener with thoughts and ideas not often found in today's mainstream music..."

While on tour, Yoakum was so compelled by the talent and warmth of the Chicago music scene, that she left Boston a few months after returning from tour and has now settled there. She recorded This Quiet Mile in her new home with engineer and producer, Christopher Greene at Truself Music. Contemplative and lyric-driven, the album is a reflection on life, love, and growing through where we are to arrive where we're meant to be.