Acclaimed singer-songwriter Jessie Baylin has announced the long-awaited reissue of PLEASURE CENTER EP, an extraordinary collection of original songs and cover versions recorded in 2011 with her longtime friend and collaborator, the late artist/musician/producer Richard Swift. The six-song EP – now amended with a previously unheard bonus track – will be available commercially on all DSPs for the first time ever this Friday, October 30, exclusively via Baylin’s own Blonde Rat Records. The vinyl version of the EP was created for this past weekend’s Record Store Day. All sales were donated to Richard Swift’s Fug Yep Soundation
benefitting The Recording Academy’s MusiCares.
PLEASURE CENTER EP includes strikingly raw recordings of classic songs by such favorite artists as Sonic Youth, Arthur Russell, and Thin Lizzy, along with an early version of her own fan favorite, “White Noise.” The EP is being heralded by today’s release of “Storms,” written by Stevie Nicks and available now at all DSPs and streaming services; The song is joined by an official companion video that was premiered yesterday via American Songwriter
“I always loved this song,” Baylin says, “and it always felt like a part of my heart in some way. I’d met Stevie the summer before PLEASURE CENTER and when I was thinking about songs to perform on this project – songs I’d loved, and people and artists I love – she certainly falls into that category. I can really go back in my mind and remember recording this one – I was sat at the dining room table in a chair singing and Richard was sitting across from me tracking guitar, I felt really inside the lyric – that moment in my life had lined up with it in a way. It is a moment that I go back to in my recording experiences as just feeling spiritually connected.”
Jessie Baylin and Richard Swift first met in 2009, the beginning of a markedly productive relationship that lasted until the producer’s untimely passing nine years later. In Swift, the New Jersey-born, Nashville-based artist found a like-minded collaborator who could enable her to take full control of her creative path, allowing her the space and freedom to be uniquely herself – artist, wife, and mother to two children.
“Our creative sensibilities were so aligned since our first meeting,” she says. “I was looking for a specific sound and Richard was the first person who didn’t look right through me – he listened, and heard me and was able to pool my broad swatch of reference points, as if he crawled inside my head and knew how to arrange everything and bring them to life.”
In 2010, Baylin and Swift began what would become her critically acclaimed second album, 2012’s LITTLE SPARK. As they worked, Baylin told her producer of an idea she’d had – something immediate and lo-fi, comprising mostly cover songs, to be recorded and released as quickly as possible. Swift was on a plane just days later, a four-track cassette recorder in hand. Five stripped-down tracks were recorded at Baylin’s Nashville home between November 14-17, 2011, including a nascent version of Baylin’s own “White Noise,” later to appear on DARK PLACE.
As intended, PLEASURE CENTER EP premiered on November 20, 2011, a free download available exclusively via American Songwriter. By Christmas, the link was down. PLEASURE CENTER EP had become a lost classic, rightfully revered by all those lucky enough to have heard it. Now, almost a decade later, Baylin is thrilled to be reintroducing the EP back into her discography. As if to put a cherry on top, PLEASURE CENTER EP now includes an exclusive demo version of “Black Blood (Demo),” co-written by Baylin and Swift for the follow-up to LITTLE SPARK, 2015’s equally acclaimed DARK PLACE.
“Richard had come to Nashville for some other work but we made time to get together when he was in town,” Baylin says, “to write and eat delicious food. This was one of the first songs we wrote from DARK PLACE, I would say this took about 20 minutes. The words free-flowed and we didn’t have to edit much; we recorded this right after we finished the last line of the song: But everybody knows the score/We’re broken ships on broken shores. That line broke my heart but it was spot on.”
Baylin and Swift continued their musical association with the 2016 Christmas single, “Purple Snowflakes,” followed in 2018 by what would sadly prove their final collaboration, the award-winning STRAWBERRY WIND. Described by Baylin as “an honest album for kids and parents,” the LP was hailed by Rolling Stone as “a unique, youthful dreamland,” noting, “(Baylin) approaches children’s music in a way that trusts kids to be more mature than we give them credit for, and lets adults be more whimsical than usually permitted… STRAWBERRY WIND doesn’t offer up a world that’s drenched in sugarplums and safe from harm: instead, it’s full of both life’s charms and its challenges.”
In addition to his milestone work with Baylin, Swift was a gifted solo artist in his own right, as well as an in-demand producer (Nathaniel Rateliff & The Nightsweats, Damien Jurado, Foxygen), valued sideman for The Shins, and a founding member of The Arcs. No matter the project, Swift often invited Baylin to join him, enlisting her to sing backing vocals on Foxygen’s breakthrough “San Francisco” or alongside The Shins for their memorable 2012 performance on NBC’s Saturday Night Live.
“Richard had a gift,” says Baylin, “not only as an artist, but as a friend. It was pretty damn special to be one of his artists.”
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