Jessie Torrisi has done time in over a dozen New York bands (Unisex Salon, Les Fleurs Tragiques and Laptop among them), although kept time would probably be a more fitting description. Is there anything sexier than a female drummer? Early in 2009, she pulled up stakes and relocated to Austin, Texas, the unofficial music capitol of the country, and began crafting her own musical identity, a mixture of the dusty Americana of her new home and the Jazz that had enraptured her since her teenage excursions to clubs in her native Philadelphia (not to mention her college studies in West Africa and brief stints living in New Orleans and Brazil). To that end, Torrisi assembled her band, the Please Please Me, and set to work on her debut album, 2009’s Bruler Bruler (French for “burn, burn”).
Spinning through Bruler Bruler, it’s not impossibly difficult to draw a line from Torrisi to contemporary Indie singer/songwriters like Feist, Cat Power and Regina Spektor (“Hungry Like Me,” “Cannonball”). But at the same time there is a distinct element of Stax-to-Motown Soul (“So Many Miles”) and there are moments when Torrisi sings with the smouldering classicism of Bonnie Raitt and Maria Muldaur (“Breeze in Carolina”). In a similar vein, Torrisi torques up the intensity with “Runaway Train,” which churns and smokes like a collaboration between Tom Waits and Chrissie Hynde, then dials back with the loping Folk Pop of “Storm Clouds,” a song that Karin Bergquist would be proud to call her own.
Torrisi is currently at work on her second album, and she’s out on the road with the full slate of Please Please Me players, typically a roster of multi-instrumentalists who shift roles (Torrisi will even take a seat behind the kit on occasion). Jessie Torrisi and the Please Please Me may be first on the bill, but this is a co-headliner kind of show. Don’t come late.
JESSIE TORRISI AND THE PLEASE, PLEASE ME plays MOTR Pub Friday, Aug. 19 with BRIGHTON MA.