For our regular Future Is Now column we profile the hottest artists who are climbing the charts, breaking the Internet or just dominating our office stereos.
SOUNDS LIKE: Sad, vulnerable songs, delivered with a sharp, conversational tone
FOR FANS OF: Courtney Barnett, Cat Power, Torres
WHY YOU SHOULD PAY ATTENTION: Growing up on the New South Wales Central Coast, Jess Locke began writing her own “overshare” songs as an “anxious and introverted” teenager, informed by an array of unusual influences – from her parents’ Creedence Clearwater Revival collection to the acoustic finger-picking lessons of Ani DiFranco, via a short flirtation with Jewel and the Smashing Pumpkins. Moving briefly to Sydney before settling in Melbourne in 2011, Locke has self-recorded – with some help from bedroom label Lesstalk – a steady stream of releases, evolving from 2009’s 50-copy solo demo In the Bedroom to March’s full band-backed “Better/Bitter” – the bouncy but confessional lead single from new album Universe, due later this year via the Smith Street Band’s newly-established Pool House Records.
SHE SAYS: “Even early on I had a strong desire to play for people, even though it was terrifying,” says Locke, reflecting on her “almost therapy” first efforts. Now, she has a far tighter grip on her objectives: “Something I strive for as a songwriter [is] to be able to capture something that’s universal as much as possible, but in a way that still feels specific to a story and not just super vague. It’s that really weird balance.”
HEAR FOR YOURSELF: Trace the shift from 2015’s Words That Seem to Slip Away to recent singles “Paper Planes” and “Better/Bitter” to hear Locke’s development as a songwriter capable of balancing introspective reflection with pop-skewed accessibility.