Abby Jeanne’s Sun is on the Rise!
Abby Jeanne Sets the Stage for a Breakout Career
Written by Brooke Billick
The accolades have been pouring in for Milwaukee-based singer-songwriter Abby Jeanne, who has been identified as one of the premier in-demand new talents in the area.
Abby Jeanne released her newest album, Music Box Dancer, on January 4 of this year and performed an album release party to a standing room only crowd at Turner Hall in Milwaukee the next night on Saturday, January 5.
Abby’s album release has been anxiously awaited, with her album release concert dubbed by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as one of the top 10 must-see winter concerts of 2019 (ranking above even Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, John Mellencamp and Elton John!).
And Abby did not disappoint anyone! Striding out on stage boldly and confidently following a musical introduction by her band members, she launched into the title track of her album. Like the subject of “Music Box Dancer,” Abby danced across the stage continually through the show interacting constantly with her fans.
Abby was born and raised in Milwaukee, perhaps getting much of her musical ‘education’ through a ‘haunted jukebox,’ visiting and working in an area café where she was exposed to a broad range of music. She has been writing songs since she was in her early teens, joining a friend in her late teens for a limited tour and EP release.
Abby Jeanne spent a year moving around the U.S. and living out of a van and performing with her guitar whenever she could. She followed that traveling through Europe for a year-and-a-half living a busker’s life, hopping trains and working in youth hostels. She played her music on the streets of cities throughout Europe, constantly moving and meeting and playing with other street performers. She also spent a month in India with her guitarist, where she wrote Cosmic Beings, which she described as the catalyst for “Music Box Dancer.”
Abby has largely been a solo artist during the early stages of her career. Over the past two years, however, she formed a band and met Milwaukee producer, Daniel Holter, who produced and mixed her album.
Abby Jeanne’s music and musical styles somewhat defy labeling. Music Box Dancer reflects the breadth of her background, with tracks ranging from rock and roll to reflective ballads to soul psychedelic. She describes her music as “rock n roll with a dreamer’s soul.” Her soul clearly shows through in her songs evoking love, heartache, passion and personal loss.
A comparison with Adele is inevitable when listening to “Music Box Dancer”, where she describes a dreamy dancer floating and drifting away. Abby’s ballad skills come out in “Die Easy” and “Muse in Vein”. The song “Cosmic Beings” reflects more of a rock and roll style while the horn-infused “Flimsey Fidelity” is a bit more bluesy. In all, the album highlights tight and personal reflections of her thoughts and emotions.
Regardless of labels, Abby has an amazing talent and voice that lifts one’s spirits and draws the listener into her music.
Abby’s Turner Hall show was the biggest headlining gig of her young career and set the stage for amazing things to come. Throughout the show, Abby was confident and poised, and showcased her marvelous, textured voice. At times, she looked around, soaking in the scene almost in wonder. If she had a case of nerves, the only hint came between songs when she asked the audience for a cigarette.
Abby Jeanne’s most personal song is the last to appear on Music Box Dancer. Abby wrote “Blood Kin” as an ode to her sister, who tragically took her own life several years ago. The song catches you off balance with a slightly discordant and astral tone, reflecting Abby’s belief, as recently stated in an interview, that her sister’s loss was not due to depression, but more about spirituality, leaving her body behind and expanding her soul into the universe. The song concludes with a beautiful piano solo that Abby describes as an out of body experience, starting expansively, narrowing to a thin, winsome tune, and then ending in a sumptuous finale.
Saturday night was the debut public performance of “Blood Kin”. She saved it to be the last song of her set at Turner Hall. The stage dimmed and, with only a viola accompaniment and Abby at the piano, she performed this touching song. The audience was hushed and clearly moved as Abby shared this most personal of moments.
Singer Saebra Laken and guitarist Carlyle Nowak, performing as Saebra & Carlyle, opened for Abby Jeanne. Backed up with a bassist and drummer, Saebra & Carlyle launched their enthusiastic set with Wild at Heart.
Playing together for only about a year, Saebra & Carlyle brought their self-described “Apocalyptic Western” style to the stage, combing all of genres the two founders have loved.
What’s Coming Up for Abby Jeanne?
Abby Jeanne’s next performance will be on January 7 at the Inaugural Gala for Wisconsin Governor-Elect Tony Evers.
With Music Box Dancer, she’s launched a new record label, Hi-Fi Records. Abby will also continue her nomadic musical life in 2019, planning a move with her band to Los Angeles for a few months to get West Coast exposure. Abby and band will return to Milwaukee to play the Midwest circuit. This will be followed up with a move to New York for East Coast experience and exposure.
As she says, Abby Jeanne is “trying to be everywhere at once.” Catch her if you can when she comes to your area!