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On When We Risethe latest album from Jess Klein, out September 15th, the critically-acclaimed North Carolina-based singer-songwriter gets vulnerable and visceral. Writing to achieve internal equilibrium during 2020’s global unrest, Klein penned a moving mosaic of anthemic women’s empowerment, reflective balladry, and rollicking sing-alongs.

“It took everything I had to create this album in a period of such isolation,” says the Hillsborough, North Carolina-based artist. “I had to lean into my hope and my faith that if I put something beautiful and positive and uplifting out there, it would resonate and empower people to look at the world and find the hope and the commonalities we all share.”

Never Gonna Break Me” finds Klein looking back at her teenage self to offer words of strength and encouragement during a period of adversity and slut-shaming. As a seasoned woman artist, her years of wisdom and experience resonate to empower all young women to buck off oppression and never back down.

Klein also found threads of vulnerability weaving their way into the record. She wrote the spacious and heartfelt “Safe Harbor” about wanting to feel safe in a world that feels increasingly shaky. With a melody that lets her powerful mezzo-soprano shake the rafters, Klein demonstrates the ultimate strength that lies in being vulnerable.

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Other tunes like “Overcome” express the raw anger and frustration of a world gone wrong and the desire to tap into a well of personal and collective strength we may not have known we had.

That Was My Family” sheds light on the crisis on the southern U.S. border using a masterful blend of evocative images and melodic guitar to paint a picture of the experiences of immigrant families in the present as well as the past — including Klein’s own Russian Jewish ancestors – stories that are a part of our collective history.

Along with the album comes a video for the catchy, free-wheeling rocker “Annie’s Place” — a tribute to a dysfunctional but lovable artists’ community Klein lived with in Austin, and a song that recaptures the vibe of friends sitting around, playing music, and just letting loose.

Klein was galvanized into writing When We Rise in the wake of 2020’s madness when she found herself fearful, isolated, and passing the hours with images of BLM protests, women’s marches, unrest, and uncertainty. The rousing and reflective When We Rise is Klein’s 11th full-length album, and was produced by longtime collaborator and dear friend, Mark Addison (Cher, Joan Baez, Mundy, Sara Hickman, Guy Forsyth).

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(Photo credit: Mike June)

Over multiple decades and albums, Klein –whom the New York Times calls “a songwriter with a voice of unblinking tenacity”—has pursued an Americana-leaning artistic evolution that has seen her delve into her own personal stories to unearth universal truths. The Bluegrass Situation hails her work as “one part grassroots social activism, two parts alt-country guitar rock — a combo we can certainly get behind.”  Klein has performed nationally and internationally at sold-out shows and festivals, including the Newport Folk Festival, Winnipeg Folk Festival, and Fuji Rock Festival in Japan. She has shared stages with such artists as Arlo Guthrie, John Fullbright and Carlene Carter. In addition, Klein has appeared on Good Morning America and NPR’s All Things Considered.

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By Porter