Jim Lange Published

Jess Baldwin: With All of Her Wildness

A woman dressed in a green dress, smiles while holding a glass, and leans against a blue cushioned wall.
Jess Baldwin's new ep Anima explores themes of finding one's creative voice.
Michelle Waters

“Home is where one starts from.” ~TS Eliot

Anima, from the Latin meaning “spirit,” is an apt title for the journey Jess Baldwin has taken to find her personal musical expression.

It may seem odd in this age of social media sharing saturation that a musician would struggle with personal expression and yet this is exactly what happened to the Bluefield native.

Growing up in a family where religious observance was taught and strictly practiced (the family was in church four times a week), as a child she felt that her own feelings or thoughts were not as important as “the word of God, God’s will” and therefore were not expressed, but suppressed for fear that she was being “selfish.”

To compound this feeling, mental illness in the family made her feel a personal responsibility to “help the family be OK as much as possible.” She says that there was not an overt “you’re not allowed to have something to say,” but this was her interpretation within the family dynamic.

In her twenties, her inner voice began to emerge. First by joining bands, playing covers and then taking interest in arranging (a re-harmonization of Somewhere Over the Rainbow can be found here) and eventually songwriting.

Anima is her new EP where six original tracks highlight her jazzy, soulful with a touch of pop songwriting style. The moods vary from quiet and reflective to joyous bursts of anthem-like choruses, but it is her tender, warm and expressive voice that draws us in. (Mountain Stage’s Ryan Kennedy is the guitarist on this album.)

To be sure, Jess Baldwin has made a journey of self-discovery and has come out confident, in full color with all of her wildness intact.

We spoke April 4, 2022.

Bonus outtake:

For more information, go to jessbaldwin.com.

Eclectopia celebrates its twentieth anniversary. Friday and Saturday nights at 9 on WVPB.

Eclectopia 20th logo_9986.jpeg

Ian Bode & Brian Pickens
Jim Lange