Jess Kerber is a songwriter who hails from just outside New Orleans, LA. Picking up the guitar at age 12, she quickly learned the instrument on an atypical path. Heavily inspired by the likes of Joni Mitchell and Susan Tedeschi, she primarily gravitated towards alternate tunings, leading her playing to take on a color unlike most other musicians. Her musicianship developed quickly as playing and writing music became an obsession within the isolation of small-town Louisiana. However, by the time she was a teenager she began cutting her teeth playing solo shows in and around New Orleans. Her voice grew to attain a deep purple heaviness, which enchanted her early recordings, all backed by the tasteful intricacy of her guitar playing, melodic and captivating enough to stand on its own.
Before long, she found herself at Boston’s Berklee College of Music as the 2018 Berklee Lollapalooza full scholarship recipient. The environment challenged her tastes and songwriting style, leading her to take on a more subdued and lyric-driven approach, influenced by the indie-folk of artists like Andy Shauf and Adrianne Lenker. As her sound evolved, she became entrenched in the burgeoning folk scene of Boston, centered around Cambridge’s historic Club Passim. Shortly before the emergence of the pandemic, she crossed paths with fellow New England based songwriter Will Orchard, who became her partner and collaborator. The pair spent much of the early days of the pandemic producing what would become Kerber’s eponymous full length record, which marked a sharp turning point in her sound.
Arranged with a cosmic blend of instruments ranging from drum machine to pedal steel, the record is rooted in americana but takes the genre several steps forward. To contrast the greater depth of the arrangements, her songwriting simply and intimately provides snapshots of self-reflection. Mixed by Charlie Dahlke of rising indie-rock fixture The Brazen Youth, the record has moments both gently uplifting and serenely heartbreaking. Kerber debuted many of these songs in acoustic duo form on a month long self-booked European tour with Will Orchard in late 2021. She now resides in Austin, TX, with her record due in May of 2022.