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Jessica Hernandez And The Deltas At The Satellite, Monday June 24th 2013

Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas
















The opening bands are often neglected by a crowd, it’s well known, but nobody should have missed Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas opening the night at the Satellite on Monday night. Really! I was there for Queen Caveat’s residency, and was wondering whether I should leave home early to catch the opening acts, but once I heard a few seconds of ‘Gone in two seconds’ online, I decided I had absolutely no choice but to go. She sounded like Amy Winehouse singing a Gogol Bordello song backed up by a Motown keyboard and New Orleans/Jungle Book’s trumpets,… actually it was a trombone, but you get it, it was rich, colorful, multi-influenced and totally catchy.

Her name translates obviously some Latin roots, and there was some of these roots in the music, but so much more, as her diverse songs all had a soul favor while being all over the place. The soul part was mostly coming from her extraordinary powerful voice, bold and moving, reaching heights above her 5-piece orchestra, yeah difficult to not notice that big rich voice. I know there is no short supply of these opera-size-voiced chanteuses, but Jessica Hernandez and her Deltas had this interesting twist as the music they played was simply unclassifiable, and could sometimes take some bohemian-cabaret, or gypsy-jazz or even funky-bluesy-soul turn. It was always festive, with a dark side, and everything sounded authentic. With her large black hat, her mini-dress and jean shorts, Jessica Hernandez looked charming and cute, and, looking at her  you would never assume she could sing with such a big voice and command her large band with such presence.

Born in Detroit, from a Mexican mother and a Cuban father, she said she grew up listening to a mixture of different things, such as her grandparents’ indigenous music, her father’s favorite classic rock and her mother’s punk rock/new Wave – which explains the uncanny sound of her music. She started playing her own music in a small space above her family’s bakery, and she has admitted herself it’s not easy to put a label on her music: ‘I still have a hard time describing my sound but that makes it fun for me. It’s hard to get bored when you have no idea what’s going to come next’. If she was born in Motown’s home, she got recently signed by jazz label Blue Note, but she said in an interview she rejected talks with Columbia Records which ‘wanted to pitch me as another Adele thing’… With her voice, I totally see why, and this is so interesting and such a bold move for a 25-year-old! But when she cites Tom Waits, Gogol Bordello, Nick Cave and Kate Bush as her favorite musicians, you can have a glimpse of where she comes from and may go next.

Her 2010 EP had this wonderful and evocative title, ‘Weird Looking Women in Too Many Clothes’ (named after a dream she had), and with her great band the Deltas, she is about to release a full length, ‘Tarantula Manson’, this fall, while currently touring the US. And if the songs they played last Monday night are any indication of this upcoming album’s sound, it will be absolutely fantastic.

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