Jessie Wagner has been so busy on the road the last ten years touring with artists like Lenny Kravitz, Chic, Kid Rock and Little Steven and The Disciples Of Soul, she didn’t have time to fully focus on what she enjoyed most: her original music. All that’s about to change for the New York vocalist, as she premieres “End Of Time” today, an irresistibly catchy ode to being unabashedly in love and wanting the whole world to know.
With its positivity and message of pure love, “End Of Time” could be the cure for the bleakness that is 2020. At the very least, we’ve got a fun soundtrack.
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Let’s love til the end of time/Let’s love til the sun don’t shine
I’m yours, you’re forever mine/I’m gonna love you, love you til the end of time
“This is just pure bubblegum fun!” Wagner says. This song is about finding the perfect person and wanting to just love and be loved by that person for the rest of your life.”
With a title like “End Of Time” it could have been easy for Wagner to follow down the dark path and create an apocalyptic end days scenario. Instead, it served as a songwriting breakthrough.
“I don’t tend to write happy songs! (Lol). When I’m writing, I frequently notice that my subject matter is usually about being misused, misunderstood, or just being broken. When my friend Jorgen Kjaer sent me his piano idea, the music just didn’t make me feel that way. I wanted to write something that fit that and spoke to my lighter, happier side. The lyrics actually came pretty quickly to me. I needed to write something that would make people happy and dance because I needed to break out of that macabre mold.”
“I actually wrote this song a few years ago,” she told American Songwriter. “Jorgen sent me a piano idea that he was playing around with. It had this great old school swing and feel. I immediately heard the melody in my head and started writing, and then we got together and tweaked it a bit.”
“When I heard the piano, I knew this was going to have a cool 60s girl group vibe. The rhythm and style of playing lends itself to that genre. I definitely wanted the old school sound, but there are things that give it a modern twist, such as the melody and the drops. I told my guys I wanted it old school but keep in mind Amy Winehouse and Meghan Trainor.”
As excited as she was to record the song, Wagner had to wait to head into the studio, as Little Steven snatched her up for a long, worldwide tour.
“I didn’t get around to actually recording it until last year. I finally made up my mind to put out this album. I had these songs and I felt like it was now or never. Whenever there was a break or a home gig, I would run to the studio to record. I had Jorgen re-record the piano track and then I got my drummer/producer Dave Diamond, guitarist Sherrod Barnes and bass player Steven Bonacio to build upon that. I had a scratch vocal for them to follow. Once the rhythm section was laid down, I had to go back on the road, but the next time we were home, Eddie Manion was kind enough to set up a session at ShoreFire Recording studio (in Long Branch, NJ) where he assembled an amazing horn section (Manion, Ian Gray, John Martin) and wrote a killer arrangement. The last things to add were my vocal arrangements and a simple guitar line. Voila! “End of Time” was made!
Wagner cites a nice diverse cross-section of artists who have influenced her performance and songwriting.
“I always love a great storyteller. Fiona Apple, Gwen Stefani, Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway, Brandon Boyd, Dave Matthews, and John Mayer are great story tellers. These are the type of writers that make you long for the days of liner notes where you can read along as you listen from song to song.”
Top of the list for Wagner, though, is Stevie Wonder. “His stories are concise but poetic. He’s conscientious, but he can also make you fall in love. He’ll break your heart, and then lift you up. His music can take you through the whole spectrum of emotions and his mark in this industry is indelible.
She references his song “I Never Dreamed You’d Leave In Summer” as an example of classic songwriting. “I’m getting teary eyed just writing the song title. Everything about this song from start to finish is magical. It’s so tender and sad, yet I still listen to it on repeat. There’s so much raw emotion in his vocal. The delivery is simple and not overdone. Every breath is fraught with longing. I hope to someday write something that connects so strongly with people.”
Wagner’s debut CD Shoes Droppin’ will be released October 9. “It’s exciting to stand alone and see if anyone connects with my music.”
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