Listening to the stillness
Singer-songwriter Jessica Malone creates folk pop for the quiet moments
Jessica Malone was go-go-go during the recording of her second album, Miles Left To Walk. She recorded every Monday and Tuesday last fall, and during the rest of the week, she would gig and take care of every other task.
She finally finished her album. On the Monday after, she found something she hadn’t experienced in a while: free time.
“I just sat down, and I wasn’t thinking about songs I’d written,” Malone says. “I had this moment where I could think about something else.”
That night she wrote the song “The Waiting Hours,” or rather, as she puts it, the song wrote itself. It focuses on the beauty of the little stolen moments in between all of our obligations when we finally get to do nothing.
“Those quiet moments. It can be just five minutes, it can be a whole night, it can be a couple days. If you can get that time for yourself, that’s great,” Malone says.
This song inspired her next release, a five-song EP also called The Waiting Hours, which she’ll release at Harlow’s Restaurant & Nightclub on October 15. The whole record poured out quickly; she released Miles Left To Walk only this February.
The theme of time pops up on several of the songs, not necessarily on purpose. It was something Malone noticed after she’d written three songs: “The Waiting Hours,” “Porch Swing Sundays” and “Right On.” (“Put it all on the line, / let it grow on the vine, / let it change with the times.”)
This unexpected cohesion inspired her to put together a release. Rather than wait for another half dozen songs to do another full length, she wrote one more original (“Damn”) and recorded an alternative version of an old song.
This is not only the first time she’s released an EP, but also her most concise recording. Miles Left To Walk features different backing bands (Switchblade Trio on some tracks and her current band on others). The genres jump between jazz, folk, pop—really all over the place.
“That’s where I feel at home,” Malone says. “When I moved to Sacramento. I met a lot of great musicians that had different musical influences. I was playing with all these people and I was exploring my sound. I love some of the places I went with it.”
Malone has played music since she was a child growing up in Mount Shasta. She later moved around to Humboldt, Arcata and Portland, where she joined bands, mostly Americana groups. Through it all, she was always a singer-songwriter. When she moved to Sacramento two years ago, she decided she wanted to be a solo act focused exclusively on her own music.
“This feels like the beginning of me really following my dreams to the fullest,” Malone says.
The musician is settling into her sound and style. That’s not to say she’ll be playing Americana roots forever, despite how natural she says it currently feels. She’s always changing and evolving, and the one constant that’s always linked her music is her voice. It goes cross-genre.
“I couldn’t think of anything else I wanted to do with my life other than sing,” Malone says. “It doesn’t change too much from context to context. It’s just how I sing. It’s kind of unwavering.”