Perhaps unsurprisingly, working and being a parent doesn’t necessarily lend itself to being as good at discovering new music as one might hope. Well, I don’t mean to say that I would have hoped that that particular combination actually would lend itself to discovering new music — that would have been a strange correlation to have expected, certainly. I just mean that, as you get older, music exploration takes a lot more time and intentional energy than you’d think. When you’re all young and relatively carefree, it just seems to come naturally, little effort required. But the more distractions and responsibilities that get added into your life, the less head space you end up with to think about it; it’s just easier to listen to what you know. It’s hard for someone like me to admit this, having once prided myself in knowing all the newest and coolest albums, but hey, as Jessica Hernandez says in her song (for completely different reasons), there’s no place left to hide — no sense pretending otherwise.
But sometimes an album ends up in your lap, as Secret Evil by Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas did at the end of 2014 (sent to me by her publicity folks), that does all the work for you. It only took the first listen to know that Hernandez is truly a talent, both as a singer and a songwriter, having written (or cowritten) all the songs on Secret Evil. She belts with the best of them, but sings with nuance as well. She manages to make her somewhat retro style simultaneously modern — no throwback act she. If you crossed Adele (or Amy Winehouse) with Wanda Jackson, or Imelda May with a splash of Katy Perry (a very small splash, to be sure), you might end up with a sound sort of like what Hernandez brings forth. It’s cool and bluesy, rockabilly-ish yet forward-looking, and her smoky, confident singing carries it to all the right places. In a better world, Hernandez would be shooting up the charts, and I’m not sure if I mean that in the “motion” or “destruction” sense. Either one would be fine with me. And it may not take my imaginary “better world” for that to happen — just the right confluence of events and she could be a star.
Let’s see if Secret Evil‘s lead-off track, “No Place Left to Hide,” doesn’t find you in agreement. And then, hopefully, every other track on the album.