Editor's note: I must admit I'm a tad
bit late getting this review out and its because quite frankly, I'm almost
intimidated by it - in a good way mind you. Have you ever had something
that you feel inept at describing? I don't think I have the vocabulary
to do this CD justice. Maybe I'll ease into this... just keep in mind,
whatever I say, doesn't even come close to describing this CD and its creator
properly- it is that good .
In the autumn of 1994, word crept through the San Francisco underground concerning an East Coast émigré with a fondness for black feather boas and Baudelaire...a mysterious pianist and singer with a sultry theatrical presence and captivatingly dark sound.I'll resist the urge to go in further on the personal details because I could very well ramble this review into a feature length story -- and I've got that (and an interview) planned for another month (stay tuned!) -- so onward with the music itself shall we?
The CD opens with "Evil Night Together" - a song that I played at my Halloween event which went over very well as indicated by the number of people who wandered up to the DJ booth to inquire what it was. It starts with a teasing tickling of the ivories, followed by a menacing string chord and saunters right in to a playful ragtime tempo. Her voice comes through the speakers for the first time with a throaty bit of sensuality as she enchants and tempts with a delicious sense of danger.
I'll hold your hand while they drag the riverYou think you can handle it? Cause there's much more...
Track two is titled
"The Fine Art of Poisoning" whose violin intro harkens back to a victorian
theme, perhaps a delicate film noire, as that voice slithers in again -
a Siren, playfully and carefully articulating each word as if they
themselves are her ingredients for poisoning our minds and souls
with her dark incantations. The sinister overtones continue in "Pulling
Your Insides Out" while "Extraordinary" changes tone just a bit and
actually goes in praise of someone causing me to wonder just exactly what
kind of person would be interesting enough enchant someone like Jill. My
favorite lines from that song are:
You're open to interpretation"The Proof" is a ghastly series of small stories about the untimely deaths of several characters connected by the chorus - it rather reminds me of Edward Gorey in ways -- drawn together with a great string section and playful bassoon. The slower, sadly beautiful "Just the Other Side of Pain" showcases Jill's talent for bittersweet, intelligent yet emotionally laden lyrics..."the persian rugs have gone threadbare, the waxing moon has lots its flair, the wishes drowned beneath the well, the razor blades have all gone dull...cause I'm still waiting for what's wonderful just the other side of pain..."
A jazz inspired beat propels "You Leave Me Cold" while she croons yet another seductive lullaby while the almost folksy upbeat tones of "Doomsday Serenade" cloaks smart tongue in cheek armageddon talk. Track 9, "Precursor #7 (for a levitation)" is a short but exquisite instrumental which leads up to the title track, "Diabolical Streak." Jill's moody piano playing sets the tone, timpani drums add the drama and this devil-diguised as angel comes meandering in singing her own theme song with lines like "so I linger in the hallway one story down below longing for a 45 revolver and a 62 bordeaux, but you're the only one who can please me, you're the only one..."
And while she's received some notable awards and has participated in cinematic events (several in San Francisco); it's unfathomable to me that some major label hasn't picked her up yet and kissed her feet... or why a big film maker like David Lynch hasn't contracted her to do film scores. She is unique - a soul out of its time; intriguing, intelligent, sensual and just diabolical enough to make you wonder if that angelic grin isn't a devilish smirk instead. I have played this CD for musicians here in Seattle and they've been immediately bewitched by it. You will too, guaranteed. When someone mentioned that the whole "girl and a piano" thing reminded them of Tori Amos - all I could say was, "Jill is what everyone wished Tori Amos could be before she went all media friendly and pop." Stop by her web page and discover this gem for yourself. There are even song samples -- if you dare...
The Malcontent Orchestra: