Jesse’s Hotel is Scott Klein’s debut album, and it is incredibly personal to the Canadian-born singer-songwriter quickly becoming known for his emotionally draining delivery of deeply haunting lyrics that colour his intimately crafted songs, blending the rustic feel of bluegrass with country riffs and the gently coaxed melodies of Brit-Pop, and that tell of the picturesque, the sensual and the very deeply personal.
“We recorded half the record in this old run down school house in a small town in south western Saskatchewan,” Scott tells me. “It was very haunting and very eerie, which I think comes across in the album,” especially in the two lead singles, Sunshine, and What’s My Name.
“Sunshine I wrote and recorded immediately after finding out that an ex-lover of mine had died suddenly… I didn’t find out ’til years later,” he reveals sadly, and with just a fleeting hint of the what-might-have-been wistfulness that runs through the song’s veins. What’s My Name, is Klein looking inwards, repeatedly questioning himself from within a dream: the song, the mood, carried along in a confessional, confidential murmur, like some shared secret never to be told; the sadness of Jim Morrison, the jangle of Neil Young with the poise of Marc Bolan resonate, the album drifting from scenes of lust towards personal conflict and dreams of dark foreboding romances, delivered precisely with Klein’s western twang.
“Well-thought-out lyrical moans,” Scott explains, “that coax the listener from pain to madness,” all the while helping to create, “a channel between a dreamful whisper and the sinful confession.”
A huge fan of ramblers like The Doors, and heavily influenced by 60’s folk rock, “mixed in with a little post punk west coast grunge”, the album is full of songs that Scott had wanted to record for a while, songs that he had been demoing and perfecting in clubs from Vancouver to L.A.
He grew up in the prairies but reveals that he, “gypsied around a lot from Vancouver to Los Angeles”, playing gigs with a two-piece punk band for a bit. “But nothing really came of it, so I moved back to the prairies just to record songs as a solo artist.” The album took him two years to record and was co-produced with Aspen Beveridge before, finally, being self-released at the end of October.
“Some of the songs involve my heart being broken in different ways, past or present,” he admits, “and others come from dreams I’ve had… But the making of the album just snowballed into what it is now… to get close as possible to the sound I hear in my head… that romance sound.”
The song Jesse, for example, “was originally a demo that I liked, so I ended up keeping it as it is because I think we captured something really unique.”
The eerily percussive guitar chords, proficiently laid down by former Sheepdogs guitarist, Leot Hanson, are folky parallels and a perfect foil for Klein’s loaded tenor voice quivering with pain; from the Neil Young-like emotionally washed-up revelations on the album’s opener, DOA to the Embrace-ish almost pop melodies heard through the track Houdini, or the Portishead-inspired LA Queen, Klein’s is a daring, persuasive storyteller’s voice, darkly laid out and glancing back briefly, “looking down,” Scott says, “at the underbelly of the Americas”, and wondering. A narrator, painfully lonely and yet honestly clear and singing his songs of knowledge through experience, that pulse vibrantly but are brutally frank.
“These songs are first person tracks… that have a lot of raw emotion from track to track. I feel their honesty… The picturesque scenes just come out like a movie I see,” Scott explains. “I have these pictures in my eyes, and if I can get to that place then the songs come out, that’s been experience. For this album each song is like a movie that takes you to that unknown place, like you’re lost, asking for directions from a lonely hitchhiker on the side of the road in the middle of the desert. I didn’t plan for that,” Scott insists, “it just happened. That’s what I admire about old music. Those descriptive scenes, whether it’s rock ’n’ roll, blues or folk.”