Jess Klein Draw Them Near

Many great albums paint a vivid picture of a specific feeling, time and place. In the case of the major label debut by Boston's Jess Klein, it's a portrait of a hopeless romantic who's just been dumped, picking up the pieces, holding their head high and hitting the open road with the wind in their hair. Said character is too wrapped up in everyday natural beauty - and eavesdropping on conversations with owls, doves, clouds and trees - to be brought down by the memory of someone foolish enough to dump them. While Draw Them Near can be as beautiful and reflective as that state of mind suggests ("I'll Be Alright"), more often than not it's muscular, assured and pedal-to-the-metal ("Goodbye Goodbye," "Little White Dove"). "I Sure Would" is an irresistibly seductive, sensual rocker that would be the highlight of most other records, but is simply one rush among many in this collection. Possessed with Sarah Harmer's melodic charm and Lucinda Williams' earthy soul, Jess Klein is the most refreshing roots rock surprise of the year. (Slow River)