Melody cries. It smiles, it laughs. It’s self-energizing and performs involuntary muscle actions. But I wouldn’t expect you to take my word for it. The word of a journalist who isn’t joyously slugging his way through the tedium of a multiple city and country tour playing to a crowd who is there to possibly see you but definitely the band after. No, don’t ask me. Ask a more informed source. One much better qualified to tell you about melody. Ask Jade Jackson.
“Melody is a universal language…I think melody is more important (than lyrics) because everybody understands it, like, in their soul. You know what I mean?” she told For The Love Of Bands in an interview.
Jade Jackson is out on the proverbial road promoting and playing her melodies from her recent “Wilderness” album and selections from her debut “Gilded.”
“For our third album, we definitely want to — and I have the perfect guitarist for it now that I’m playing with Julian Ness — …do some more melodic…hooks because I think sometimes it can be just as important as lyrics,” Jackson explained. “I mean Tom Petty has amazing, great, wonderful, top-notch lyrics but Mike Campbell (Heartbreakers’ guitarist) I think his guitar hooks are just as important.”
She revealed that she was born legally blind and theorizes that since she couldn’t see, her sense of hearing became acute as she relied on sounds to define the world.
“I remember being like eight and listening to a Hank Williams song and just the melodic progression tugged at my heartstrings even back then before I even knew what the lyrical content even really meant,” the 28-year old commented.
It wasn’t until she was 13 that she put melody to story. As soon as that happened her trajectory was set. She knew it.
“I always thought I was going to do something with writing just because I loved telling stories,” she said.
Ultimately, a composition’s dichotomy becomes unified rendering a dynamic listening experience.
“Then yeah, you couple it with great lyrics, it’s like, oh, this is like a wonderful story and I’m really like taken to this place that this artist is taking me with the story,” she asserted.
Many would consider her music alternative country or “noir” country or a type of melodic Americana. The heart-shattering “Aden” from the first record and the pop-oriented “Don’t Say That You Love Me” from “Wilderness” speak volumes about her ear for melody.
A BBC.com article pointed out that Taylor Swift writes melodies around a single note emphasizing her words.
“It helps that her lyrics are effortlessly conversational and vernacular…Taylor uses the device most often in verses, shifting the chords beneath her voice to give the melody a sense of movement, in the same way that moving a light around the room casts different shadows,” it said.
Jade Jackson too has produced a true sound through effective methods while generating a range of moods, but the message is clear, an adroit marriage of words and melody create great art.
Both of Jackson’s albums were produced by Social Distortion’s Mike Ness providing the southern California singer-songwriter with a fruitful and constructive learning experience.
“I was a Social Distortion fan too. And so it was just kind of a surreal experience. Especially, with ‘Gilded.’”
Jackson had already been plugging away for 10 years before Ness stepped in and offered to help her out.
“I’ve been dreaming about a record deal and like a real studio for a long time.”
She was nervous about meeting Ness not sure what to expect from the frontman of one of America’s most venerable and durable punk bands — though Social D has since shed its punk skin and replaced it with a more Americana epidermis. Ness allayed her fears.
“When I met him he was so down-to-earth and spiritual and kind and just rad,” Jackson said.
Ness took her under his wing and she feels indebted and thankful for that. However, the second go-around with him wasn’t what she had envisioned. On “Wilderness,” the process was a bit more difficult. She went in thinking she would be more vocal and hands-on with the production. Ness came in with the same attitude.
“We had to have some hard conversations and it was hard at the time but in the end it helped us grow because I think just with any relationship if you both have an idea of how something is gonna go and it doesn’t align if you don’t communicate about it it’s just gonna combust,” Jade Jackson said.
Ness will be at the helm for her third album as well.
Her father also had a part in her musical development. Their father-daughter bonding time always consisted of listening to records together — how cool is that. Music was a salient bonding agent for Jackson and her parents cementing a love for older tunes.
“Music’s kinda all I ever knew. Just in the way that I grew up. My dad, he’s not a musician himself, but he’s absolutely obsessed with music,” she said. “…I know a lot of kids my age when they were getting into their teens they’re like the last thing I want to do on earth is listen to what my parents listen to. But for me, it was like, dude, my dad’s listening to X, and he’s listening to Echo and the Bunnymen, and all these bands…and I just never turned away from music my dad raised me on.”
Great interview with a talented songwriter. Awesome that she was produced by Mike Ness, he is one of my favorites!