An alternate title for Caitlin Jemma’s latest studio album, Love Notes, might be Notes on Love. Each track explores a different shade of the feeling. After all, love can be true, it can be selfless, and it can be tough.
The first song, “Ain’t That Something,” kicks it off with a soulful exploration of self-love. “There ain’t nothin’ wrong with being your baddest,” croons Jemma with all the authority of a woman confident in her own skin. What better way to begin, especially considering Jemma’s journey to self-discovery that brought this album to fruition was one of self-acceptance and release.
“I feel like I've finally found a sound which fits me—vocally and stylistically. I've been digging in to so much R&B and soul over the last few years and finally found a way to integrate it into my folk/country singer-songwriter style," Jemma reflects. "I came to realize that I listen to many types of music, so the music I create should reflect my influences. Fusion is so wonderful... My experiment this time is a collection of songs which cruise in between country, soul and R&B. I'm very excited to be going down this path, to have opened this door for myself.”
The album certainly has the texture of liberation, alternating between classically country tunes (“Nothing Left to Lose”) and more sultry, jazz-inspired tracks (“All Night”). The production, led by Bart Budwig, is delightful and deliberate in its simplicity, recorded live on stage at the OK Theatre in Enterprise, Ore. What results feels like a study in spontaneity and passion, particularly in Jemma’s vocal performance. Featured on the album is Joseph Hein on grand piano and organ, as well as Michael Steinkirchner on electric guitar and upright bass, Nevada Sowle on electric bass and electric guitar, Cooper Trail on drums, Budwig on trumpet, and Meg Graham on violin.
What does it mean to Jemma to have created something so fluid? Like she’s finally become her baddest self: “I finally gave up who I thought I needed to be, what I needed to do, how I needed to sound, and just started creating, just started being me,” she says. "The process of radical self-love is frightening as much as it is liberating.”