Music Review >> Glee Cast – “Mash Off”

Among my favorite moments in each season of Glee have been the episodes that highlight song mash-ups. This season’s mash-ups for the most part lived up to their predecessors and one particular track stood out as probably the best mash-up Glee has ever done.

In an episode chock full of medleys, Mark Salling’s (Puck) take on Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher” was the only solo track. I don’t think Salling gets enough credit for his vocal versatility. He showed a more vulnerable side of his voice earlier this season on a Foreigner track and, this week, we got to hear more depth and fullness in his singing. I think this was one of the better vocal performances we’ve gotten from him, actually. Cory Monteith (Finn) could also be heard on the track, and his voice pairs nicely with Salling’s.

On to the mash-ups, Idina Menzel (Shelby) and Matthew Morrison (Will) sang a medley Lady Gaga’s “You And I” and the Eddie Rabbitt/Crystal Gayle duet “You And I.” On paper, one wouldn’t think this could work, but surprisingly it does. I’m not sure that I’m quite sold on the pairing of Menzel and Morrison as duet partners, however. That said, I liked that Menzel had the bulk of the mash-up, because she really redeemed herself from season one’s recording of Gaga’s “Poker Face,” of which I was never a huge fan. Overall, I found the double dose of “You And I” to be a success.

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Meet Jessie Frye

Jessie Frye describes her music as “Oscar Wilde climbing into a piano and drinking lots of espresso,” whereas I would describe the Texas native’s music as a refreshing addition to today’s music scene that is reminiscent of The Cranberries mixed in with PJ Harvey and Liz Phair, along with a dash of Sara Bareilles for good measure.

Frye’s first step into the musical world was when she was eight years old and started taking voice lessons. At around the age of 11 or 12, she began piano lessons. For Frye, it was right after she started playing piano that she realized that she was meant to be a creator and make music.

While growing up in Dallas, Texas, Frye listened to the music that that would shape her as an artist, including acts such as The Cure, Tori Amos, Michael Jackson and the pre-rapping days of Madonna. Also, as a huge fan of literature, she counts Oscar Wilde as a huge creative influence. She credits him, saying, “His outlook and his passion and his philosophy really inspired the core beliefs that I have about art.”

In 2008, Frye released her debut EP, The Delve, which she describes as having that “DIY charm,” and that “it’s very innocent, it’s very organic and raw.”

At age 22, the now Denton-based Frye is fresh off her third turn of performing at SXSW and is gearing up to release her second EP, Fireworks Child, this week.

Last month, I spoke with Frye over the phone to talk about performing live, her new EP, Fireworks Child, and her goals for the future. So, without further ado, meet Jessie Frye.

Around what age did you start writing music?

Well, like 11 years old. But, they were horrible, obviously. I feel like you have to feel things out and write some really private bad stuff before you start writing the good stuff. I know good is relative, but when you’re 11, your songwriting probably isn’t as polished as when you’re 20 or something like that.

As you progressed into writing songs that you would go on to perform, where was the inspiration coming from? 

Experiences. I always try to think when I’m writing songs, I think a lot of people think, well, this is about love or this is about a relationship, but for me I try to describe it. Not so much that it’s storytelling, but it’s abstract at the same time, so you take whatever you want from it; like using metaphors, not using blatant sentences in your lyrics. To me, lyrics are a really, really important thing, and no matter how good the music is, I can’t listen to it if your lyrics are dumb. You know, I just can’t do it. I spend a lot more time on lyric writing than I spend on actually arranging the music.

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