Jess Ribeiro’s mesmerising storytelling shines bright as ever on Summer of Love

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Jess Ribeiro’s mesmerising storytelling shines bright as ever on Summer of Love

Jess Ribeiro tour

While creating her fourth album with Nick Huggins, at his beach studio on Wadawurrung Country in Port Lonsdale, Jess Ribeiro spent many months as the only guest at a nearby hotel. 

“Maybe if I wore sunglasses inside/ I won’t feel tired…” – you can tell Ribeiro is singing this record’s stark opener – underscored by haunting drone, sustained piano chords and improvisational drumming – super-close to the mic.

Everything Is Now follows, Ribeiro’s layered vocals now sounding eerily detached, mesmerised (“The river is calling me away upstream…”) amidst plucked melodies and woozy guitar accents. 

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Far from the party anthem one might expect from its title, Summer Of Love’s title track is a lament. Here, Ribeiro navigates the complicated loss of Niamh, a close friend since childhood who went missing during their gap year – spent together – more than two decades ago (the case was reopened recently, which reawakened her anguish).

“I lost my friend/ I cut my hair and decided I’d start a brand new life when we parted…” – strings flow in and out of the arrangement like waves of grief. 

Latest single Jump The Gun – with its paranoid/unkind-innervoice BVs and manic, discordant sax solo played by Jazz Party’s Darcy McNulty – features Jim White (Dirty Three, Xylouris White) and Dave Mudie (L.A. Mood, Courtney Barnett) on percussion. 

Elsewhere: standout track Airborne, delivered in sprechgesang, sifts through vivid memories; strings are the wind beneath Helicopter’s wings until it crashlands into percussive cacophony; and Howl was written while Ribeiro was “losing [her] mind” in a campground – the sole camper, she soon found herself talking to The Grampians’ native wildlife. 

Summer Of Love’s profound intimacy galvanises genuine active listening throughout.