Water in a Whale

Water in a Whale

by Jillette Johnson


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Pianist and singer/songwriter Jillette Johnson's debut full-length album, 2013's Water in a Whale, is an impressive, ambitious album that showcases Johnson's talent for classical-influenced piano, as well as lyrics that are at once intimately poetic and universally relatable. Johnson fits into the long tradition of piano-playing female pop artists, from Carole King to Tori Amos to Vanessa Carlton to Regina Spektor. Much like those artists, Johnson has a knack for balancing her more personal, almost diary-like songwriting inclinations with a radio-ready sense of pop composition. In that sense, her mix of arty yet melodic pop also brings to mind such icons as Kate Bush and Laura Nyro, and while there is certainly a sophistication and girlishness to some of these songs, there is also a bold cockiness expressed here. Jillette, a New York City girl, is no innocent flower; she's a fighter who, as she sings on the leadoff "Torpedo," knows "how to take a right hook," "put a shot back," and "fake a hard look." This fiery attitude also helps Jillette get away with several florid, grand character-driven epics in tunes like "When the Ship Goes Down" and "Pauvre Coeur," which could come off as melodramatic overkill were it not for the fact that Jillette utterly commits to each line. It also doesn't hurt that she has a hugely resonant voice to match the big personalities she inhabits in each song. Part of Jillette's power comes from her ability to utterly lay bare her personal demons and failings in ways only the most confident women can. In "Peter Pan," she reveals that she's the last of her friends to give up the debauched freedoms of youth, like getting drunk on Tuesday nights and smoking pot. Similarly, she admits to several lust-driven, possibly abusive relationships with "Last Bus Out" and the utterly supplicating "Basset Hound," in which she shivers the lines "I wanna follow you around/Like a dog" and "While you play your games/I'll be at your gate, baby." While Jillette is certainly willing to own up to her personal failings, she is never the victim in these songs, but always the soldier with a sense of gallows humor, whose wounds make her stronger as they heal. As she sings on "True North," "Got to admit there's something funny in the fall to ruin" and "When the road ends and spits you out/You'll call your friends and wipe your nose/You'll find true north and stumble home." Ultimately, on Water in a Whale, Jillette may admit to her stumbles, but creatively she never falls.

Product Details

Release Date: 06/25/2013
Label: Wind-Up Records
UPC: 0601501332920
catalogNumber: 13329
Rank: 150333

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Jillette Johnson   Primary Artist,Piano,Background Vocals
Shawn Pelton   Drums
Claire Fisher   Violin
Peter Zizzo   Dulcimer,Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Mandolin,Percussion,Drums,Keyboards,Background Vocals,Tres,Musician
Katie Weissman   Cello
Dave Eggar   Cello
Gunnar Olsen   Drums
Mats Wester   Nyckelharpa
Michael Mangini   Background Vocals
Richard Wouters   Drums
Lenny Skolnik   Vocoder
Prince Villiam   Bass,Guitar,Keyboards,Background Vocals,Guitar Effects

Technical Credits

Rob Mounsey   Horn Arrangements
Rob Mathes   String Arrangements,String Conductor
Howie Beno   Engineer
Peter Zizzo   Programming,Producer,Engineer,Horn Arrangements,String Arrangements,drum programming,rhythm arrangement,Horn Programming,Management,Effects Programming
Gregg Wattenberg   Producer
Chris Shaw   Engineer
Ross Peterson   Engineer
Michelle Lukianovich   Art Direction
Dave Roberge   Management
John Alicastro   Engineer
Jordan Burger   Booking
Justin Rose   Engineer
Michael Mangini   Programming,Producer,Engineer,rhythm arrangement,Horn Programming,Management
Richie English   Composer
Jillette Johnson   Composer
Prince Villiam   Programming,Sound Effects,String Arrangements,Vocal Effect

Customer Reviews

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Water in a Whale 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There is not a single song on this album that i don't like. every song is catchy, every song is filled with emotion and beautiful melodic structure. the musicianship behind it is intricate and complex in a way that only seasoned musicians can muster. Her vocals are beyond amazing, and there are times when i sit and wonder, 'how did she do that?' all in all, i have enjoyed this album from start to finish. i've listened to it every single day for almost a month and i havent gotten bored yet.