Reviewed by Aaron Cloutier & Staff
Funky, passionate, and energetic. These and many other words came to mind immediately as I listened to first few seconds of playback on “The Key," a roaring, groove laden, soul-injected, pop-rock anthem by Syracuse, New York natives, the Jess Novak Band. What struck me first I think is just how hard this band swings. The first hiccups of a distorted guitar played by Anthony Saturno set the tone and my ears perked up. Soon after, the feel extended an invitation to the drums, (courtesy of Byron Cage), resonant organ, (brought to you by Deyquan Bowens), and full-bodied brass (by Nick Fields) to get the floor moving with a solid groove that locks in tight and never lets up. Not that you’d ever want it to y’know?
Toss in some expertly honed songwriting chops, well crafted hooks and a refined perspective on arrangement and you’ve got the perfect canvas for any singer to paint on which lead vocalist Jess Novak does in spades. Novak’s vocals at any given moment, could go from sultry and intimate to powerful and commanding and at times, even get quirky in an acrobatic sort of way. Shifting between playful squeaks and classic rock style screams to full throated belting full of attitude, vibrato, and expression. The huge energy in the collective performances coupled with the high level of musicianship makes for such a potent combination that I can’t imagine anyone would be sitting down in their seats at on of their shows.
Novak draws lyrical inspiration from the subject of recognizing your own individual power to make choices. If you find yourself in a less than savory relationship, it’s up to you to recognize that you’re the one steering your own ship. As soon as you do, you can close that unsavory door and throw away the proverbial “key”.
I feel like this is particularly conveyed the best during lines such as…
“You’ve been crawling down the same old path
Wondering why it takes you back
You swear you’ll make a change
But you can’t outrun the shadows tied to your feet
You can’t open your mouth when you’re grinding your teeth
You just rearrange
But sometimes you’ve gotta let it go
Leave behind what you know.”
Honestly, if everything I’ve just said about this band doesn’t make you want to push play like I did, I don’t know what will. With solid songwriting, high level musicianship and dynamic performances, the Jess Novak Band is in my opinion, a band on the rise and one you’d be wise to watch.
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About Jess Novak Band Jess Novak takes no prisoners. With a fiddle on fire, powerful vocals and a fierce band behind her, this pop, rock, soul-pumped group from Syracuse, New York brings passion to every performance. Known for their energy, superb musicianship, engaging songwriting and ability to win any crowd, this is a band on the rise. Having touched audiences across the country – from Burlington, VT to Key West, FL to San Diego, CA – and with Novak playing more than 250 dates annually, the sound gets tighter with each show. "The Key" is featured on Novak's latest album, "A Thousand Lives", her tenth original album to date.
For more information about Jess Novak Band, please visit their website.