Since Jess Lamb’s time on American Idol, she has been busy getting her name and brand out in the public eye. She has played constantly at venues old and new, teamed up with other local musicians for projects and made many TV and radio appearances around Cincinnati. Up until this point, her output has been largely live performances and outreach. But now that her contract with American Idol is in its final month, she is taking the next step to continue growing in her career, starting with the release of her first single to radio on March 30.
The single, “Memories,” should be familiar to most of Lamb’s fans already.
“This is a song that I’ve released through iTunes and performed as an indie artist, with just a simple, master mix in 2010,” Lamb says. However, the song has been updated and revitalized by superstar producer David Sisko.
Sisko has worked with artists like Justin Timberlake, Destiny’s Child and Kelly Clarkson, just to name a few. What sets his version of the track apart from the original is twofold. First, Sisko has an obvious ear for what makes a Pop song successful. The new version is fuller, with layered vocals (all recorded by Lamb) and thicker instrumentation. Sisko also worked in hooks that loop into the listener’s ear and don’t let go. When the guitar and bass drop out for a chorus, leaving only a tribal drum beat and Lamb’s vocals, it becomes obvious that the song could easily find a home on any Pop radio station across the country.
The second change that Sisko brought to the table was his eagerness and ability to produce Lamb’s vocals, which she has never experienced before.
“I’ve never had someone say, ‘I want to produce your vocals.’ I’ve been putting music out since 2010 and no one has ever said, ‘Why don’t you try this Jess,’ ” Lamb says.
What results is a track wherein Lamb’s already powerful vocals are tuned to a fine edge. Sisko put great care into keeping the heart of the track intact to craft a song that maintains the original’s sultry ambience, but dials up the energy to more Pop-friendly levels.
While Lamb is excited at the proposition of turning her originals into more Pop-friendly versions, she is taking great care to insure that the end results stay in her control.
“I own that master and I plan to own each master. It’s kind of hard with the money to keep up,” Lamb says.
This isn’t a normal practice for most musicians, especially for acts like Lamb who aren’t rolling around in platinum record-levels of money. But she is adamant on maintaining a handle on what is released under her name.
“I’m really starting to buy into the really independent artist. I’m going to own my master, which is a big deal. I could have done this with Sisko and signed a production deal, which is what most everyone does. They don’t have the money so they sign a production deal and he owns that master,” she says.
Lamb plans on releasing remixed versions of her songs throughout the summer, with “Dig Deep” following shortly after the release of “Memories.” She is set on putting out each track the same way, utilizing the contacts she has made over the past months to release each track without any sort of major label or other interference. She is ascribing to the indie artist mentality from beginning to end and insuring that the music that is put out under her name is something she truly believes in and cares about.
Ultimately, this is just the beginning of what Lamb hopes to do once she is released from American Idol’s contract (which limits certain industry/career moves). The groundwork that she has laid in the preceding months will finally have more building blocks laid upon them at the end of May and “Memories” is just the first stone of many. Ultimately, she wants to stay stationed in Cincinnati and grow her career from the city she calls home. Whether she performs her works herself or passes them to other artists is up in the air at this point, but one outcome could easily feed into the other.
“I have songs that I’m sitting on that could be reproduced for other artists, because I really do want to make a living writing and performing. That’s where my heart is. That’s where I feel that I shine the most and I feel like I’m being backed in those ways,” Lamb says.
In many ways, “Memories” is simultaneously a finish line and a starting point for Lamb. It shows just how far she has come since the Kansas City tryouts on American Idol, but it is also her springboard into a much larger and more demanding pool. But with a world-class producer working with her, a city full of supporters behind her and her own raw talent, she’s determined to make a big splash.
Nick Grever’s Beyond Idol Chatterblogs follow the post- American Idol activities, career moves and achievements of Cincinnati vocalist Jess Lamb.